A centuries-old Southeast Asian canal project is being dusted off once again.
Plans to create a waterway through southern Thailand’s isthmus were first mooted in 1677. The so-called Kra Canal would link the South China Sea with the Andaman Sea and provide an alternative to the Malacca Strait. Every few years the infrastructure project reappears in the headlines, normally shot down due to its prohibitive costs. Now a group of influential retired Thai generals, politicians, academics and businessmen with close links to China are pitching the current Thai government to carry out a feasibility study for the 135 km long waterway.
The Nikkei Asian Review reports that a group called the Thai Canal Association of Study and Development is trying to persuade Thailand’s prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to approve a feasibility study. The group believes the canal plays into China’s One Belt, One Road infrastructure spending between Asia and Europe.
However, in recent years both Thai and Chinese authorities have distanced themselves from the Kra project.