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China to Start Patrols along Mekong River



Chinese police will start patrols along the river with Laos, Myanmar and Thailand


Joint police patrols along the Mekong River will kick off in mid December to restore security after a deadly attack to Chinese ships in October.

Chinese police will start patrols along the river with Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, said a statement from the Ministry of Public Security here Saturday.

No exact date was given, but the first joint patrol will be carried out before Dec. 15, said the statement, issued after a ministerial meeting of four countries held in Beijing.

Police from the four will work together to restore shipping and guarantee security along the river, the statement said.

Shipping on the Mekong River has been suspended since two cargo ships were attacked on Oct. 5, resulting in the murder of 13 Chinese sailors.

A headquarters for the initiative will be founded in China and there will be a coordination office in each of the other three countries. They will be linked by a round-the-clock communication mechanism, the statement said.

China will assist Laos and Myanmar police in terms of training and equipment, the statement said.

Police departments of the four countries will also set up a coordination team to work out more security measures along the Mekong River, it added.

Thai police have since pressed charges of murder and tampering with evidence against a group of nine army officers including a major and a lieutenant.

Gen Yutthasak said the Mekong countries should jointly step up efforts against crime on the river.

He said there had been 20 or 30 crimes recently on the river, most of them had occurred on sections under the jurisdiction of Laos and Burma and outside the 9-kilometre-long stretch of the river under the authority of Thailand.

The defense minister said he expects clearer guidelines for joint security operations after the secretary-general of the National Security Council returns from a two-day meeting on the murders with Chinese officials in China.

The minister said ties remained good between Bangkok and Beijing because Thai authorities were cooperating well with their Chinese counterparts in investigating the murders.

Gen Yutthasak insisted that no scapegoats would be arrested in this case. Chinese authorities confirmed they had recordings of phone conversations and photographs to identify the culprits, he said.

Anna Wong – Chiangrai Times

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