| Representatives of police officers take part in the launching ceremony of the joint patrol of police force from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand along the Mekong River in Guanlei Port in Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Dec. 10, 2011. Chinese police Saturday started joint patrols with their counterparts from Laos, Myanmar and Thailand to maintain security along the Mekong River, a major transport passage in the region. The joint patrol marked the restoration of international shipping services on the Mekong River that had been suspended since deadly attacks on Chinese cargo ships on Oct. 5. (Xinhua/Wang Xiaoxue)|
BEIJING, Dec. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- China has launched a joint police patrol along the Mekong River with Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in response to an attack that killed 13 sailors there in October. A special police team made up of more than 300 officers set sail from Guan Lei port in southwest China’s Yunnan province on Saturday.
A gun fire salute. The crew, escorting 10 commercial ships, will reach Chiang Saen in Thailand on Sunday. The joint patrols have been established in response to attacks on river cargo vessels, specifically the murder of 13 Chinese sailors two months ago.
Ye Chao is the owner of Baoshou, one of 10 commercial ships on the first voyage. Even before the October attack, he had experienced lots of trouble by armed gangs as he plied the river.
Ye Chao, ship owner said "Many Ships were robbed and sailors killed. Those gang men were fully armed and we had nothing to defend ourselves. We speak their language, so we survived. But for those who don’t, anything could happen."
After the attack, the Chinese government suspended navigation for Chinese ships along the Mekong and held a meeting with Myanmar, Laos and Thailand to discuss security cooperation. The four countries agreed to strengthen co-operation to ensure regional security and combat cross-border crime.
In recent years, extortion, robbery, drug smuggling and people trafficking have brought gloom to the Mekong, especially in the "Golden Triangle" area. Commercial ships are the most targeted.
Ye Chao said "We’re reassured by the government stepping in. We don’t have to trade at the risk of our lives any more."
The joint patrol police command office is based in Yunnan province. Chinese police will also help train and equip police in Laos and Myanmar.