If I remember correctly the whole idea behind the Kra canal was first mooted by the Thais in the 1990's. Only much later was it looked at by the Chinese. The question is was it driven by the need to avoid the congested, narrow and easy to interdict Straits of Melaka or by the need to cut down on sailing time? Or was it a combination of both?Thus business wise it raise question who wants to pay Canal Tool fee for only saving two days journey.
Robert Kaplan speaks of China's borders being the most secure they have been in centuries. The big problem for China is its dependence on international sea routes for the transport of its energy supplies. Stretching westwards to the Persian Gulf, all the way to the Indian Ocean, through the Straits of Melaka and the South Chinese Sea; Chinese shipping is extremely vulnerable to interdiction.
China's recently constructed islands/reefs in the Spratlys area are intended to improve its ability to safeguard sea routes and if needed to project power - part of its contested zone within the First Island Chain. I has also been suggested that china's islands/reefs would have a part to play in the event of a conflict over Taiwan. What I don't get is how the Kra Canal mitigates this - shipping from the western end at the Straits of Melaka will still have to exit at the eastern end where they would still be vulnerable to interdiction.
In such a scenario war would erupt - there's no way that China would allow the littoral states in the area to deny it access to the Straits. If war were to erupt; the U.S. would be involved and it won't make a difference whether Chinese shipping can utilise the Kra Canal to exit via the Gulf of Thailand and move past Cambodia because they would still be interdicted.Imagine scenario that Indonesia-Singapore-Malaysia close China shipping from using Malacca Strait (due to their protest of China closing SCS as China own pool). If China already got the deal to open Kra Canal, then they can use Cambodia (China’s long time ASEAN allies) waters