China / Politics

Fourth joint patrol of Mekong River to start

By Cao Yin and Zhang Yan in Beijing Guo Anfei in Kunming (China Daily) Updated: 2012-05-11 07:31

Fourth joint patrol of Mekong River to start

A Chinese police ship sets sail from Guanlei Port in Xishuangbanna, along the Mekong River in Southwest China ’s Yunnan province, on Dec 10. Chinese police started joint patrols with their counterparts from Laos, Myanmar and Thailand to maintain security along the river, which marked the restoration of international shipping services on the river that had been suspended since deadly attacks on Chinese cargo ships on Oct 5.CUI MENG / CHINA DAILY

Agencies to fight drug and human trafficking


Oct 5, 2011

A total of 13 Chinese sailors aboard two cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, are killed on the Mekong River.

Oct 13

Victims' families arrive in Thailand.

Oct 14

Chinese officials and families pay their last respects to victims at a farewell ceremony in Thailand.

Oct 23

A Chinese police delegation arrives in Thailand.

Oct 26

Chinese police inspect the crime scene to help with investigations.

Oct 28

Nine Thai soldiers reportedly turn themselves in for attacking the Chinese ships.

Oct 29

In a phone call with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Premier Wen Jiabao asks Thailand to arrest the suspects immediately.

Oct 31

China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand agree to jointly patrol along the river at a meeting in Beijing.

Dec 10

The first joint patrol starts.

Jan 14, 2012

The four countries conduct the second joint patrol.

March 25

The third joint patrol starts.

April 25

Naw Kham, the drug lord suspected of masterminding the murder of the 13 Chinese sailors, is arrested in Laos.

May 10

Laos transfers Naw Kham to Chinese police.

Cao Yin

China and three of its neighbors will launch a fourth joint patrol on the Mekong River, where 13 Chinese sailors were killed in October, an officer said on Thursday.

The patrol, bringing together law enforcement agencies from China, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, will be launched at the end of this month, according to Zhou Rongbiao, an officer with Yunnan Provincial Frontier Defense Police Corps, a subordinated department under the Ministry of Public Security.

Similar patrols have been launched three times along the river, where the 13 Chinese sailors aboard two cargo ships were killed on Oct 5, Zhou said.

"The four countries will participate in regular patrols on the river," he said.

The latest patrol was launched at the end of March to fight drug and human trafficking, Zhou said.

Drought, starting from the beginning of this year, has reduced the water level of the river and has affected shipping in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China's Yunnan province, Zhou said. The reduced water level will also make patrolling more difficult.

The May patrol will follow the same route, which starts from Guanlei Port in Xishuangbanna and ends at Chiang Saen Port in Thailand, Zhou said.

More police officers will join the patrol and more advanced equipment will be used, Zhou said, but he did not elaborate.

Some Chinese sailors have stopped sailing on the river since the killings.

Feng Zhengliang, who was a sailor in Xishuangbanna for more than 10 years, said six of the 13 victims were his friends.

"I was so sad to hear of their deaths," the 36-year-old said, adding that he could not bear to see their lives taken by foreign gangs.

"From then on, my wife wouldn't allow me to work on the river, and after considering the danger, I had to quit my job," he said.

He carried passengers on his boat on the river for a living and could earn about 3,000 yuan ($480) a month.

However, he is thinking of returning to the job. "I'll go back, if the river is safe enough in the future," he added.

Wang Hongjun, research office director of the public order department at the Chinese People's Public Security University, said security on the river depends on improving social order in the four countries.

"The areas along the river are full of threats, such as drug trafficking and armed confrontations, which need more cooperation and supervision by the four countries," he said.

If each government can maintain public order along the river, attacks will not happen frequently, he said.

 Fourth joint patrol of Mekong River to start

Australian tourists are on their way to board a Chinese tourist ship in Jinghong Port of Xishuangbanna in January, which heads to Thailand along the Mekong River DAI ZHENHUA / FOR CHINA DAILY 

It is also hard to patrol the river "because it's very long and it can be hard to supervise all the areas where there are conflicts", he said. "Police should deploy more officers and equipment to escort cargo ships," he said.

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