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Mekong patrols help ensure mariners' safety

By Aybek Askhar | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-27 10:09

The four-country initiative was established after 13 Chinese sailors were murdered in 2011. Aybek Askhar reports.

A joint drill is conducted by border police forces from China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar on the Mekong River in November. ZHANG ZHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

In November 2011, China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar agreed to set up a joint command of armed police forces to escort commercial vessels on the Mekong River.

The decision was made in response to the murders of 13 Chinese sailors on two cargo vessels on the Thai section of the river on Oct 5,2011.

The Mekong, known as the Lancang River in China, is a vital waterway for cross-border shipping between China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and is playing a growing role in regional trade. In recent years, China and other countries along the river have committed to regional integration and development.

The 2011 attack prompted the plan to conduct joint law enforcement along the Mekong that the four nations had been mulling for years. An agreement was reached in Beijing on Oct 31, 2011, which paved the way for deepening transnational cooperation in policing the river.

Under the framework, the quartet jointly patrols the China-Laos section of the river around the clock, supplying escorts for commercial vessels and combating cross-border crime. The patrols safeguard the 70 million people living in the river basin and international commercial vessels traveling along the river.

The enhanced efforts will help deter various criminal groups operating along the river, especially in the so-called Golden Triangle, a notorious haven for drug traffickers, pirates and gangsters, who pose a growing threat to human life and property.

The joint patrols have set a precedent for more transnational cooperation in regional security issues. The patrols have greatly strengthened security on the Mekong, which will provide more safety for transnational and cross-border trade.

By the end of November, 88 patrols had been undertaken successfully.

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