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Trade on Lancang-Mekong River rises as safety improves

Reporter: Meng Qingsheng 丨 CCTV.com

06-08-2016 11:40 BJT

The Lancang-Mekong River runs through six countries, most of which are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, also known as ASEAN.

Now, with improved navigation safety and favorable trade policies, cross-boundary trade is booming in the region. CCTV’s reporter visits Guanlei Port, China's first waterway hub connecting the Lancang-Mekong River.

Sailing upstream along the Mekong River. Captain Aiwang finally arrived at Guanlei Port, the final stop of his two-day voyage. The captain from Laos has been trading on water for 16 years.

He said, "I have developed a close connection with the Mekong River after years of working on the waterway. Sometimes, when I have nothing to do at home, I will go to the ship, and sleep in it, as I have been accustomed to the life and everything on the river."

For most part of his career, Aiwang transported timber from Bokeo Province in Laos to China’s Yunnan. It’s a lucrative business as the demand is huge in China.

The Mouang Mom Port where he departed from is on the Laotian side of the Golden Triangle. At one point, the place was overrun by cross-border crimes, especially drug trafficking.

"It's safe enough for us to sail up and down the Mekong River, as there are policemen now patrolling at major points. And it won't be a troubling experience for us anymore to find a safe place to anchor our boat. There's always someone to protect us," Captain Aiwang also said.

Zheng Guangyu is another captain doing trans-national business along the Mekong River. He has more choices than his Laotian counterpart in selecting goods to deliver. Things like machinery, fruits and daily commodities are welcomed in the ASEAN market.

Zheng said, "The ASEAN market is a huge one to me, so is the consumption power of the people in the region. It's practically that of Chinese consumers. They like Chinese products, and Chinese products are competitive there."

Trade between China and ASEAN countries is booming here in Yunnan Province. This, in a large part, is due to the improved security conditions along the Mekong River. And the province is expected to play an even bigger role as a crucial hub of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Zheng Guangyu has been working on the river for over two decades. The veteran captain says he is optimistic about the changes that will be brought about by the Belt and Road Initiative, along with other policies.

Zheng also said, "I hope that Guanlei Port will be enhanced into a first-tier border port. And more favorable policies should be implemented, like near-border, tariff-free trading, and animal products transaction and storage. That will definitely boost the shipping industry here.

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