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Patrolling The Mekong ep.3: Captain explains hardships, pride of joint mission

Reporter: Meng Qingsheng 丨 CCTV.com

12-20-2016 12:57 BJT

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Joint Patrol and Law Enforcement initiative on the Mekong River. Today we continue our six-part special coverage of those joint patrols. For each patrol ship, there's a captain responsible for management and skills training. CCTV's Meng Qingsheng follows one captain, Mr Yan, who explains the hardships they face, and the pride he feels in working to ensure the river is safe.

This is the 52nd joint patrol on the Mekong River. For border police officers, each mission is a brand-new one. Captain Yan Fan has worked on this ship since the maiden voyage started five years ago. He says it’s hard to navigate an unmarked route.

"We are now able to follow the exact route in our minds, and navigate based on memory. That requires the expertise and experience that comes from years of practice," Yan said.

There are over 40 dangerous rapids scattered along the river. At some points, the river is only 15 meters wide, the minimum requirement for a safe passage. And sometimes, it requires extra precaution, even hard labor.

"Navigating this waterway can be very dangerous. Our propellers break from time to time. Then we have to replace them standing in the water. Because the water comes from the snow mountains, it's freezing cold. We shiver a lot but always make it," Yan said.

The captain says his crew should always be well-prepared to confront potential dangers.
As an experienced police officer, he trains them how to handle weapons, and get in the best position to fight. The skills are more than necessary for fulfilling a special mission -- one that approaches the Golden Triangle. This smuggling zone crosses Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand.

At regions near the Golden Triangle, law enforcement personnel from the four countries carry out checks to prevent crimes such as drug and human smuggling. This routine monthly operation has lasted for five years since December 2011.

The focus is mainly on cargo ships, as they are spacious enough to store something unexpected.

In March 2013, the team found nearly 600 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden under a cargo ship's deck.

"Every time I patrol on the Mekong River, I feel like I am not only serving the Chinese people, but also people from other countries. I think the job has a much deeper and profound meaning," Yan said.

When night falls, the patrol fleet anchors at the river's side. Police officers remain on duty in case of emergency calls from civilian ships.

Captain Yan’s crew has been awarded several times for their hard work to fight crimes and help those in need. The captain says, while he is proud of what the team has accomplished, there will be no relenting when it comes to safeguarding the Mekong River.

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