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TIN news:   China is working with five ASEAN members to improve the main shipping lane on Lancang-Mekong river that the six nations share.
The second phase of dredging begins soon and will allow 500-tonne ships to navigate the river year round. Ports and safety will also be improved, said Sun Yongzuo, director of the Yunnan bureau of shipping affairs.
Known as the Lancang in China, the Mekong rises on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea.
The first Lancang-Mekong Cooperation leaders’ meeting was held in Sanya, Hainan Province, this week. A joint declaration issued after the meeting said that Lancang-Mekong countries would work together in the sustainable management and utilization of the river.
Ran Mujiang, a captain on the river for nearly 20 years said the river could be very dangerous as waterway is a very complex one.
“The passage is narrow, sometimes with big turns. It is very shallow at some points and there are many submerged rocks,” Ran said, adding that navigation had improved in recent years, but much remained to be done.
Five years of dredging have greatly improved China’s stretch of the waterway and the second phase will extend into Laos. China has been working with its neighbors to improve navigation since 2002 with joint patrols by law enforcers from China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand every month.
Since the channel was opened in 2001, over four million tonnes of cargo has been transported along the river, representing a trade volume of more than 30 billion yuan (4.6 billion U.S. dollars), but the route continues to face problems such as poor infrastructure and underutilization.
“International cooperation along the river needs to improve in areas such as dredging, new ports, telecoms and emergency response,” Ran said, before the “golden waterway” eventually creates opportunities for all.

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