The Kra Canal

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Sertorio
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The Kra Canal

Post by Sertorio » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:20 am

Thailand’s Kra Canal: Economic and Geopolitical Implications
July 17, 2018 2920 - By: Pithaya Pookaman

https://www.asiasentinel.com/econ-busin ... lications/

For 330 years, visionaries have thought of dredging a great canal 150 km. across the Kra Isthmus in southern Thailand so that vessels sailing from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific could cut hundreds of kilometers off their voyage and avoid the Bugis pirates of Indonesia that for centuries have haunted the Strait of Malacca.

Economically it has never made sense – until now, as China’s burgeoning maritime traffic packs the 800 km Strait, a seagoing funnel that narrows to only 64 km near Singapore, with only a half dozen kilometers of that usable because of its shallow depth.

Accordingly, Beijing signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the canal project in Guangzhou in 2015 with the China-Thailand Kra Infrastructure Investment and Development Company and Asia Union Group. The Chinese envision the huge enterprise as a linchpin in its Belt and Road Initiative, a development strategy designed to link as many as 70 countries into a vast economic web with Beijing at the center, the land-based Silk Road meshing with the Maritime Silk Road, all focusing on connectivity and cooperation between the countries.

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The Malacca Strait is estimated to reach saturation in 2024 when more than 140,000 vessels seek to pass through the narrow waterway, which can only accommodate 122,640 vessels per year. The vessels would therefore have to opt for longer alternative routes passing through the Straits of Sunda and Lombok further south unless a more feasible route through the Kra Isthmus is developed.

Moreover, the shallowness of the Malacca Straits presents a problem for the oil supertankers, which need a draft of 21.2 meters. The strait’s shallowness reduces the sea lane to only 4 kilometres in width, making passing ships vulnerable to maritime accidents, piracy and terrorism by religious fanatics. Another serious concern is the environmental impact from oil leaks from supertankers.

Given the near saturation of the Malacca Strait as well as potential security and environmental risks, it is therefore unavoidable that a viable alternative shipping route has to be found sooner than later. The Thai Canal would offer the shortest link between the Indian and the Pacific Oceans compared to other routes. It would reduce the travel time by about 700 km and two to six days depending on the route, substantially reducing the shipping cost.

One proposal is to build a canal from the ground up to accommodate large vessels. The ground would be first leveled and walls would then be built to eliminate the need to dig deep into the ground, greatly reducing construction time and costs. Two separate waterways would run parallel to facilitate navigation. The canal would take 10 years of complete at a cost of US$28 billion. A special economic zone would parallel the canal and a deep-sea port would be built in Thailand’s southern province.

(...)
Will Singapore be the main loser? Maybe it explains Singapore's consistent following of US policies in Asia...

Jim the Moron
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Re: The Kra Canal

Post by Jim the Moron » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:39 am

Good article. I used to post often on the subject.

Plenty of pros and cons. Thai military honchos and the corrupt elite will be lining up at the trough during any environmental review activities. Don't ask about any actual construction activities . . .

An interesting alternative was put forth a few years back. A port would be built at the Gulf of Thailand (East) side. On the West (Andaman Sea) side would be another port. A major dedicated highway would connect the two.

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SteveFoerster
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Re: The Kra Canal

Post by SteveFoerster » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:39 am

Wake me when it actually happens.
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Sertorio
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Re: The Kra Canal

Post by Sertorio » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:18 am

SteveFoerster wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:39 am
Wake me when it actually happens.
You would have said the same of the Great Wall... Or the Pyramids... :D

neverfail
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Re: 'Rah, rah rah!' for the Isthmus of Kra.

Post by neverfail » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:27 pm

:lol: :)

The Suez canal was built in the 1860's to save shipping from Europe the many thousands of additional sea kilometers of voyage following the traditional sea route to the Indian and Pacific Ocean littoral states of Asia; and their riches. Ironically, though initially a French civil engineering project It also permitted the transfer of British royal navy ships from home base in the UK to outlying colonial assets (e.g. Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney) in the Asia-Pacific empire.

The Panama Canal was an American project to save US ships the many thousands of sea kilometers (and weeks of additional travelling time) tin the voyage between the east and west coasts of the USA. In addition to American merchant shipping there was also the matter of transferring US navy vessels from east coast ports to the likes of the Pearl Harbour and San Diego naval bases. The fact that merchant shipping of other nations also derived benefit from the Panama Canal is a bonus.

The point is that both canals shortened sea distances and travelling times by eliminating the need to bypass an entire continent. This proposes Isthmus of Kra canal does not achieve the same but merely bisasses a southward terrestrial projection of Asia too small and compact to be even described as a sub-continent. The savings in shipping costs and time would be so small that it makes no commercial sense at all. Which is very likely the reason why it has never previously been build.

But as pointed out above the excavation of (respectively) the Suez and Panama waterways brought not just commercial benefit but geostrategic and military advantage to (successively) imperial Britain and the USA.

Since the commercial benefits even to Chinese shipping of a Kra canal would be marginal-to non-existent the only reason why the PRC would want to bear the cost of building it would be for the geostrategic-military advantages that would accrue.

The Thai government should deny approval for the construction of this project that would firmly place their country in China's pocket.

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Sertorio
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Re: 'Rah, rah rah!' for the Isthmus of Kra.

Post by Sertorio » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:59 pm

neverfail wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:27 pm
:lol: :)

The Suez canal was built in the 1860's to save shipping from Europe the many thousands of additional sea kilometers of voyage following the traditional sea route to the Indian and Pacific Ocean littoral states of Asia; and their riches. Ironically, though initially a French civil engineering project It also permitted the transfer of British royal navy ships from home base in the UK to outlying colonial assets (e.g. Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney) in the Asia-Pacific empire.

The Panama Canal was an American project to save US ships the many thousands of sea kilometers (and weeks of additional travelling time) tin the voyage between the east and west coasts of the USA. In addition to American merchant shipping there was also the matter of transferring US navy vessels from east coast ports to the likes of the Pearl Harbour and San Diego naval bases. The fact that merchant shipping of other nations also derived benefit from the Panama Canal is a bonus.

The point is that both canals shortened sea distances and travelling times by eliminating the need to bypass an entire continent. This proposes Isthmus of Kra canal does not achieve the same but merely bisasses a southward terrestrial projection of Asia too small and compact to be even described as a sub-continent. The savings in shipping costs and time would be so small that it makes no commercial sense at all. Which is very likely the reason why it has never previously been build.

But as pointed out above the excavation of (respectively) the Suez and Panama waterways brought not just commercial benefit but geostrategic and military advantage to (successively) imperial Britain and the USA.

Since the commercial benefits even to Chinese shipping of a Kra canal would be marginal-to non-existent the only reason why the PRC would want to bear the cost of building it would be for the geostrategic-military advantages that would accrue.

The Thai government should deny approval for the construction of this project that would firmly place their country in China's pocket.
True. But I have this funny feeling that Thailand - like the Philippines - may prefer China to the US... At least the Chinese are polite while they screw you...

neverfail
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Re: 'Rah, rah rah!' for the Isthmus of Kra.

Post by neverfail » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:24 pm

Sertorio wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:59 pm


True. But I have this funny feeling that Thailand - like the Philippines - may prefer China to the US... At least the Chinese are polite while they screw you...
Thanks sertorio.

My wife originates from the Philippines and I mix readily with members of the immigrant Filipino community down here - which it quite a large one. Let me reassure you that back in their home country (as here) there is still a lot of goodwill towards the United States (not all of it in my opinion well deserved) and that Filipinos almost to a man and women do not want their country to have to live in China's shadow. It is just that the Philippines is currently headed by a president who, for transitory political reasons, sees fit to tilt the country towards the PRC.

In one way he is right to do so. Apart from the fact that for many years past Philippines government have not bothered to cultivate mutually beneficial ties with the PRC (in effect ignoring the elephant in its own living room); the USA has, I feel, taken the Philippines far too much for granted. It would probably now do both countries the world of good to have to competitively bid for Filipino loyalty.

There is not a single country in south east Asia that wants to live under China's thumb. Yes, the USA can be rough and rude in dealing with foreign countries that are not Anglo but from the perspective of south east Asians the USA is the great power located safely far away whereas the PRC is the great power located right on their front doorstep. Do you now see the logic of inviting US support to counter and diminish growing PRC influence over their region?

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Re: The Kra Canal

Post by SteveFoerster » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:25 pm

Sertorio wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:18 am
SteveFoerster wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:39 am
Wake me when it actually happens.
You would have said the same of the Great Wall... Or the Pyramids... :D
Or the Nicaragua canal, or the superconducting supercollider....

Look, I'm not saying it's impossible, just that no one should bet the rent on proposals to build a 150 Km long canal that would be more of a convenience than a necessity.
Writer, technologist, educator, gadfly.
President of New World University: http://newworld.ac

neverfail
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Re: The Kra Canal

Post by neverfail » Sat Nov 10, 2018 2:06 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:25 pm
Sertorio wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:18 am
SteveFoerster wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:39 am
Wake me when it actually happens.
You would have said the same of the Great Wall... Or the Pyramids... :D
Or the Nicaragua canal, or the superconducting supercollider....

Look, I'm not saying it's impossible, just that no one should bet the rent on proposals to build a 150 Km long canal that would be more of a convenience than a necessity.
Well put, Steve.

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cassowary
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Re: 'Rah, rah rah!' for the Isthmus of Kra.

Post by cassowary » Sun Nov 11, 2018 12:01 am

Sertorio wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:59 pm

True. But I have this funny feeling that Thailand - like the Philippines - may prefer China to the US... At least the Chinese are polite while they screw you...
Sertorio,

Nobody in SE Asia prefers the Chinese to the US and that includes Chinese dominated Singapore.

It is only leftists or Socialists like yourself that does not like the US and prefer the enemies of the US no matter how odious.

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