The idea of the Kra Canal, prevalent in the 18th and 19th centuries, resurfaced in the late 1990s as the Khlong Thai or “Thai Canal” idea. However, the high investment costs, massive and unpredictable adverse environmental impacts, and security implications have all weighed against its realisation. A mega project proposal that envisions building a “Land Bridge” between Chumphon Province on the Gulf of Thailand and an enlarged deep-sea port in Ranong Province on the Andaman Sea has now been touted, supported by the Prayut administration. Academic Termsak Chalermpalanupap examines the options.
While China has soared ahead in other areas such as expressway construction and port development, it lags behind heavyweights like the US in railway development. A fundamental cause is relying on the government as its single investment channel. Plugging its railway gaps, literally and figuratively, would give China’s economic development a decided boost.
Values underpin multilateral cooperation, asserts economics professor Zhu Ying. The Chinese case is no exception. Their international engagement has been driven by values, whether in the early period of “leaning to one side” and becoming an ally of the Soviet Union, or the present “multilateralism with Chinese characteristics” held up by mechanisms such as the BRI. Question is, what incentive does the international community have to meet them halfway?
In May this year, China’s leaders proposed a new dual circulation strategy featuring both domestic and international circulation, with emphasis on the former. Associate Professor Gu Qingyang of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) notes how this new strategy will complement the current global economic system, and how it will affect the rest of the world.
One solution that ended the Vietnam war may provide some lessons for bringing the Afghan war to an end during Biden’s presidency. Forty years ago, the Nixon administration played the China card, enabling Washington to leave the Vietnam war. In the present, a replica of a Vietnam-inspired exodus — one moderated by China and its ally Pakistan — is worth pursuing. China has built relations with all of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries and has the capacity to build a regional infrastructure and economic network. US academic Ma Haiyun explores the possibilities.
Chongqing’s GDP accounted for 2.3% of China’s total GDP in 2019, and roughly 2.4% of China-ASEAN bilateral trade volume. As the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Initiative (CCI) enters its fifth year, EAI academic Yu Hong looks at the CCI and its major project, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor (western corridor), and discusses the challenges the western corridor faces in building itself as the foremost connectivity channel between western Chinese and ASEAN enterprises.
If elected the president of the US, Joe Biden will not necessarily gain traction in Southeast Asia by simply not being Trump. He will have to bring tangible economic and political options to the table, and harness the intrinsic power of America’s network of allies and partners.
Beijing has pledged financing, materials, technology and manpower to build railroads, hydropower stations and other infrastructure projects in Southeast Asian countries under the BRI. But China continues to face enormous challenges getting projects off the ground in countries that need the investment most. US academic Murray Hiebert examines why.
The world has become greener and cleaner because of a drastic drop in human activity brought about by the pandemic. Professor Koh Lian Pin opines that these effects may be only temporary but the fact remains that the world needs to direct more attention to climate change. He sees China playing a bigger role in implementing nature-based solutions for climate and sustainable development. With its experience and immense investments in scientific research and development, it could even lend a hand to countries in the Asian region.