BEIJING – Thailand should act decisively and start conducting a feasibility study on the long-awaited Thai Canal (Kra Canal) as suggested by several of China’s experts during a one-day international conference on the canal today.
The South East Asian country, according to them, will greatly benefit from the construction of the more than 100km artificial canal which will cut the Kra Isthmus in Songkla/Satun in southern Thailand linking the Indian and Pacific Ocean.
The canal, if constructed will see ships bypass the Malacca Straits and save more than 1200km or about three-days of sea journey.
“As the development of the Kra Isthmus Canal (Thai Canal) is of great significance to Thailand, it is recommended that the relevant departments of Thailand start the feasibility study of the canal as soon as possible,” said Prof Zhou Dawei from Peking University here.
He said, the Thai Canal would open up the most spectacular sea corridors in human history, like the Suez and Panama Canals which would connect international maritime channel network.
The Thai Canal, will make Thailand a true transport hub in the world, claimed the expert adding that, the canal also fell in line with the “One Belt One Road” (Obor) initiative, in reviving the famous ancient trade routes that link Asia, Africa and Europe.
“We strongly believe that under the OBOR initiative, if we give more importance to the Kra Isthmus Canal (Thai Canal) project, we will definitely be part of a great change in humankind’s history,” he said.
Meanwhile, another China’s expert, Prof Jingsong Song from Shanghai Jiao Tong University said, now is the right time for Thailand to start the construction of the canal with the backing of Beijing’s financial and technological muscle.
“Thailand should take advantage of China’s position now and start the Kra Canal project. Don’t delay the project, now is the right time,” he said and added, if Bangkok delays the project it might not get the backing from China.
The Thai Canal, said Song, would not only propel Thailand’s economic ambition but also the Asian and the world’s economies.
The expert also opined that the Thai Canal would not compete with Malacca Straits, as the straits would maintain its purpose in catering for larger ships such as the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) while the canal serves smaller but faster vessels.
Another expert Zhao Gang from Beijing’s Scheme of International Cooperation in Renewable Energy said, Thailand could not make the right judgment and decision without conducting a complete scientific feasibility study about the Thai Canal.
Chairman of Thai Canal Association of Study and Development Gen Pongthep Tesprateep in his opening speech hoped today’s conference would act as a catalyst for the Thai government to create a National Committee to do the feasibility study.
The feasibility study he said, “will provide answers to any doubt that may still exist.”