BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- As the first joint escort mission along the Mekong River successfully concluded on Tuesday, China had found a new way of conducting regional law enforcement cooperation with its neighbors.
The first escort voyage started Saturday morning and ended on Tuesday afternoon, when three Chinese armed police vessels returned safely to their home port of Guanlei, in southwest China's Yunnan province.
Earlier Tuesday, the police vessels from the three partner countries, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, had also returned to their home ports.
During the first joint patrol, 10 commercial ships were safely escorted to their destination in Thailand, marking the full restoration of international shipping services on the Mekong River, which had been suspended for weeks after the deadly attacks on two Chinese cargo ships on Oct. 5.
The murder of the 13 Chinese crewmen on the river shocked the public and underscored the urgency to improve the security in the troubled but significant waterway.
The 4,880-km-long Mekong River, a "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.
The river, however, has in recent years witnessed an increase in extortion, robbery, human trafficking and drug smuggling, especially in the notorious Golden Triangle area.
The four countries decided to launch joint police patrols in late October, weeks after the deadly boat attack on Oct. 5.
The headquarters for the initiative was established in China, while liaison offices were set up in the other three countries to share intelligence and coordinate operations.
Joint police patrols are expected to help restore shipping services, protect the safety of passengers and vessels, as well as reduce crimes along the river.
The four nations also agreed to seek a long-term mechanism on joint patrol cooperation to crack down on transnational crimes and safeguard social order in the Mekong River region.
These steps are expected to contribute to improved stability in the region and, furthermore, establish a new model of cooperation between neighboring countries that have common concerns in security.
The law-enforcement departments of all parties should study this mission and further step up their coordination in this field by organizing more joint operations to crack down on crimes threatening safety in the Mekong River area.
As senior Chinese leader Zhou Yongkang had put it, the joint patrol and subsequent cooperations are meant to make the Mekong River a safe Golden Channel which conveys peace and friendship, benefiting the people.