In a major blow to China, Thailand has claimed that many countries including India, US, as well as Australia, have shown interest in building the proposed Kra Canal in the Southern part of the country.
China has been eyeing to construct a 120-kilometre mega canal cutting through the isthmus of Kra in Thailand. It would help Beijing in solving the 'Malacca Dilemma' as it opens the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, bypassing the Strait of Malacca.
Thai Nation Power Party MP Songklod Thipparat, who chairs the parliament's group that studies the project's feasibility, said that countries such as India, Australia, the US, and of course China are willing to support Thailand on the project, Khaosod English, a Thai newspaper, reported.
"They want to sign a memorandum of understanding with us," Songklod said in an interview. "Foreign embassies have contacted us to get the latest status on the project."
He added, "More than 30 foreign firms have shown an interest in investing or supplying us with financial and technical support to build the canal."
The Strait of Malacca is a major bottleneck in China's global ambitions. 80 per cent of China's oil supplies pass through the Malacca Strait, apart from forming its trade routes to the Middle East and Europe. But India's geographical position is such that it can easily block the Western side of the Strait of Malacca.
If Thailand chooses one of three quad members interested in the project, it will be a heavy blow to China's ambitions to dominate the region.
In recent time, Thailand is acting cautiously in dealing with China. Recently it was reported that Thailand, which once was the strongest ally of China in the South China Sea region, had decided to not only postpone the procurement of two submarines from China but has also put on hold the Chinese proposal for building a canal in the Bay of Bengal and replaced it with its own project.