Trial transportation of processed oil on the Lancang (Mekong) River will start before the end of the year, announced Qiao Xinmin, director of China Lancang River Maritime Affairs Bureau, on Monday.
According to Qiao, over the past twenty years, China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have collaborated towards the development of Mekong River. During the 1990s, China renovated a stretch of the Lancang (Mekong) River over 260 kilometers long in southwest Yunnan Province which adjoins Laos and Myanmar. In 2001, shipping between ports in Yunnan Province and Laos started operation. So far, with the joint efforts from the countries bordering the Mekong River, the navigation capacity of the channels has reached scale five, opening them to ships below 300 tons all year round.
Statistics show that since the start of shipping in 2001, cargo transported along the Mekong River has surpassed 1 million tons with over 100 cargo ships sharing in this transportation, most of them from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.
The coming trial transportation of processed oil will add a new channel for foreign processed oil imports coming to China, greatly reducing transportation costs and furthering avenues for cooperation in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).
International shipping on the Mekong River has shown its new features in terms of transport security, diversity of transportation, technological advancement and the size of its commercial fleet, Qiao added.
Over the course of the next five years, Yunnan will improve the Lancang Route by applying following measures. Firstly, advanced industrial services will gradually be established along Jinghong Port. Secondly, Jinghong will see the setting up of an International Sailors Training Base where sailors from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand will gather to improve their technical knowledge and safe navigation skills. Thirdly, smooth transportation will be assured through the rapid construction of a protection and management system on the upper reaches of the Mekong. Finally, an emergency salvage and mechanical service team will be created and placed on permanent stand-by.
(China.org.cn by Li Shen, August 23, 2006)