Patrols bring security to Mekong River

Updated: 2013-12-17 08:23

By Hu Yongqi (China Daily)

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However, because Thai law prohibits foreign police from entering the country's territorial waters, a local marine police vessel met the patrol fleet when it arrived at the port of Chiang Saen. Having made contact and reported their findings, the vessels in the fleet returned home.

Jin Shangwen said the fact that the patrols involve four countries means diplomatic ties are even more important than usual. Every morning during the patrol, Jin convened a teleconference with China's Public Security Ministry to report his position and that of the patrol. Laotian and Thai representatives and their interpreters joined Jin as he spoke with officials in Beijing.

Cementing relations

Sports have become a crucial means of cementing relations between the Chinese officers and their foreign counterparts. In October, a Waters Division soccer team played a game against a team from the Marine Police in Wan Pon, a Myanmar town just across the river from Maung Mo. The final score was 2-1 to the Chinese team.

On Nov 20, Aug Zaw Mint, director of the Wan Pon Marine Police, challenged Jin and his men to a tug-of-war contest. More than 300 villagers attended the event, held at the soccer field. Once again, the Chinese were victorious. Women performed traditional dances for the guests and the loudspeakers broadcast popular Chinese songs translated into the local dialect.

In the aftermath of the sporting contests, Aug Zaw Mint and Jin had a long series of discussions about future cooperation.

On Nov 20, Jin met with representatives of the three neighboring countries at Maung Mo to discuss improving the efficiency of joint rescue operations on the river. The meeting reached a consensus that international shipping should be governed by stricter navigation rules, and that the exchange of information between the four parties needs to be improved. Vidone, chief of staff of Bokeo province in Laos, suggested that China should take the lead role in the patrols.

The Yunnan Border Police presented patrol boats to Laos and Myanmar last year and thanks to interaction such as this, the collaboration is going from strength to strength. In 2014, Thailand will deploy two new hydrojets, each costing 2 million yuan, to oversee its stretch of the waterway.

The Chinese patrol fleet checked passing vessels in the company of officers from Laos and Myanmar. Lech, a 29-year-old farmer and shipowner from Thon Pherng in Laos had just paid 3.6 million yuan for a new vessel. He said he wanted to earn extra income by transporting cattle to riverside towns once his crops are harvested every year. He claimed he could make 9,000 yuan per trip.

"These multinational patrols will stop the robbers and drug gangs intercepting our cargo on the river," he said. "Hopefully, that will mean my business will prosper in the years to come."

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Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei contributed to this story.

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