Countries agree to secure Mekong River shipping

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua News Agency, October 31, 2011
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China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand on Monday agreed to take joint action to crack down on cross-border crime and secure transportation along the Mekong River, after 13 Chinese sailors were killed in a deadly boat raid earlier this month.

The pledge came out of a one-day law enforcement meeting among senior cabinet members from the four countries. The meeting took place nearly one month after two cargo ships were attacked on Oct. 5, resulting in the murder of 13 Chinese sailors.

The 4,880-km-long Mekong River, a so-called "Golden Channel" linking Cambodia, Vietnam and the four countries, has served as a major trade route for the countries and the China-ASEAN free trade zone. Shipping on the Mekong River has been suspended after the deadly boat attack.

While meeting with delegation heads of the four countries attending the conference on Monday, Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, called for a thorough investigation into the attack.

Zhou said criminal activity has increased on the river in recent years, with extortion, robbery and shootings becoming more frequent.

"These cases, especially the Oct. 5 murder, have severely endangered the ships and sailors on the route," he said.

Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Kowit Wattana, Laotian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Douangchay Phichit and Myanmar's Minister of Home Affairs Ko Ko attended the law enforcement meeting.

A joint statement issued after the meeting said, "The participants have agreed to take effective measures to step up efforts in joint investigation so as to uncover the full details of the case and bring the criminals to justice as soon as possible."

The four states agreed to formally establish the "Law Enforcement Cooperation along the Mekong River Mechanism" to cope with the new security situation on the river.

Under the new framework, the four countries will build sub-mechanisms for intelligence exchanges, patrolling and law enforcement, as well as for tackling major problems jeopardizing public order, combating transnational crimes and dealing with emergency events.

All participants will "carry out coordinated special campaigns to eradicate criminal organizations which have long threatened the region's security," said the statement.

The four countries agreed to carry out cooperation in patrolling and law enforcement in order to provide safe conditions for the resumption of shipping on the Mekong River before the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Meeting in December, the statement said.

They agreed to take action to fight transnational drug-related criminal groups and prevent activities that jeopardize security along the river, the statement said.

All participants agreed to set up direct contact points among navigation law enforcement authorities from the four countries and maintain communication via letter, telephone, fax and email, the statement said.

The four countries agreed to strengthen cooperation on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit, and to resolve problems and differences through consultations.

The four countries also agreed to hold working meetings in the event of emergencies or individual cases.


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