Home / News / World /  Thailand: Once China's friend now stalls defence deal, cancels massive infra project

Thailand: Once China's friend now stalls defence deal, cancels massive infra project

File Photo:  $724 million purchase of two submarines from China amid the country's declining economic situation.Premium
File Photo: $724 million purchase of two submarines from China amid the country's declining economic situation.

  • The Kra Canal proposal was to construct a 120-kilometre mega canal cutting through the isthmus of Kra in Thailand
  • According to EurAsian Times, under a 2015 deal, Thailand was one of the first countries to buy Chinese naval hardware and finalised its purchase of three submarines in 2017

BANGKOK : 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.

According to EurAsian Times, under a 2015 deal, Thailand was one of the first countries to buy Chinese naval hardware and finalised its purchase of three submarines in 2017, with the first one expected to be delivered in 2023.

Following a public outrage on the USD 724 million purchase of two submarines from China amid the country's declining economic situation, Thailand 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.

"The navy will negotiate with China to delay for another year," Anucha Burapachaisri, a government spokesperson, was quoted as saying.

"The Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has given priority to the concern of the public who are worried about the economy," he added.

Thailand has also taken a step back from the Kra Canal proposal, thus, dampening Beijing's hopes for a strategic alternative to the Strait of Malacca.

The Kra Canal proposal was to construct a 120-kilometre mega canal cutting through the isthmus of Kra in Thailand.

Citing a report in the Foreign Policy, EurAsian Times reported, "The real concern is that it [Thai Canal] would further undermine the independence of poor southeast Asian countries like Myanmar and Cambodia, which have comparatively weak civil societies that are highly vulnerable to Chinese interference. And it absolutely imperils Thailand."

Thailand's step to replace this proposal with its own project will be a relief for all.

With Thailand is going against the interests of China, the latter is now left with almost no allies in the South China Sea region.

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