4-nation patrol succeeds in 1st escort mission over Mekong

Updated: 2011-12-13 23:01


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BEIJING - Three Chinese armed police vessels returned safely to their home port of Guanleigang, in southwest China's Yunnan province, ending the first mission in newly established joint patrols to escort vessels passing along the international Mekong River.

The Chinese police officers were warmly welcomed by representatives of the Ministry of Public Security (MOPS) and local authorities, along with local people, after escorting 10 commercial vessels along the waterway.

Earlier, the police vessels from the three partner countries had also returned to their home ports.

Last month, China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar agreed to set up a joint command of armed police forces to escort commercial shipments along the Mekong River, following the shooting to death on October 5 of 13 Chinese sailors on board two cargo vessels in the Thai section of the river.

The first escort voyage was difficult for the joint patrol as the river is known for its blind bends and it becomes even more dangerous in winter conditions. The patrol vessels had to test the water before the business vessels passed troubled parts.

To prevent attacks by gangsters who might have hidden in the woods along the riverbanks, the patrol used a number of different formations. At night, the patrol ships surrounded the commercial vessels, while in the daytime, the police vessels escorted the business boats on high vigilance, keeping in close contact with each other and with command headquarters.

On the afternoon of December 11, the 10 business vessels arrived in their designated port in Thailand. On Monday morning, the joint patrol vessels set off for home.

In an interview with Xinhua, a MOPS spokesman spoke highly of the four-nation patrol, saying that it has set a new, mutually beneficial model for China to cooperate in law enforcement with neighbors in the field of security.

In the future, the law-enforcement departments of the four countries are expected to study this first mission and further step up their coordination in this field by organizing more joint actions to crack down on crimes threatening safety in the Mekong River area, the spokesman said.