Mekong River patrols of four countries start after attacks

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on December 9, 2011

China has started joint patrols along the Mekong River in unison with three other countries across the region,

In order to enhance security in the wake of a string of attacks, patrols with Burma and Laos began on Friday morning, as reported by China’s state media. Personnel from Thailand are to possibly join the ongoing operation further downstream.

These patrols are a direct response to the murder of 13 Chinese sailors that travelled along the river two months ago. The four-nation deployment intends to fill a vacuum in the notorious Golden Triangle region, widely known for its part in global drug-trafficking.

China’s booming trade down the Mekong had to be temporarily suspended after 5 October saw the corpses of the mentioned Chinese sailors floating in the water. Initially, drug smugglers were suspected of carrying out the attack.

Weeks after, nine Thai soldiers were detained. As confirmed by China’s public security ministry, over 200 police from Yunnan province’s border defence force will take part.

Thus far, it has not been made clear whether or not they will join forces with counterparts from Burma, Laos, and Thailand or just how far down the Mekong these patrols will go. Also unclear is whether officers from the countries will be allowed to carry out arrests in territorial waters that belong to their neighbours.

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