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Terror threat spawns co-operation
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-28 05:50

Chinese and American customs authorities launched a joint container security initiative (CSI) in Shanghai yesterday, intensifying their battle against the threat of terrorism through global container shipping.

Under the new initiative, Chinese customs officials will check suspected cargo destined for the United States for terrorist contraband, sources with the Beijing-based General Administration of Customs (GAC) of China said.

As a reciprocal programme, the CSI project also offers participating administrations the opportunity to send customs officers to major US ports to target ocean-going, container cargo being exported to their own country.

"Enforcing CSI in Shanghai, one of China's leading seaports, is a good beginning for customs co-operation between the two countries," Mou Xinsheng, GAC's top official said at yesterday's opening ceremony in Shanghai.

"This symbolizes an important milestone in protecting global trade lanes from the Pacific Rim to the United States," US Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Robert Bonner said.

"The US is grateful for China's strong support in helping make a safer, more secure world trading system."

Bonner also viewed the move as "a genuine celebration of the China and US alliance and solidarity to protect the trade lanes and the global economy against the threat of terrorism."

On July 29, 2003, China and the US signed a CSI Declaration of Principle, agreeing to join forces in the Ports of Shanghai and Shenzhen to fight against global terrorism.

CSI is a priority programme for the United States and one of its flagship initiatives launched in response to the September 11 attacks.

Preparations are already under way for implementation of the scheme in Shenzhen over the coming months.

CSI is the world's only multinational programme aimed at protecting global trade lanes and container shipping from exploitation and disruption by global terrorists, Bonner said.

The CSI partnership will enable customs officers to target and examine high-risk containers, before they are loaded onto ships destined for the United States, Bonner added.

By becoming a partner in CSI, China joins neighbours Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan in helping ensure the secure flow of goods from and through Asia to the United States.

Bonner also made it clear the new system would not hinder trade, saying: "Our partnership also ensures that cargo will be processed more quickly upon arrival at seaports in the United States."

The US is continuing to implement CSI and has deployed teams to 36 of the world's major ports.

(China Daily 04/28/2005 page2)

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