Author Topic: So, a Chinese version of The Wire can't be far behind  (Read 514 times)


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So, a Chinese version of The Wire can't be far behind
« on: November 02, 2011, 11:55:49 pm »
Apparently, this kind of thing is only unusual in terms of scale

The arrests last Friday of nine Thai Army officers for the Oct. 5 murders of 13 Chinese seamen spotlight a horrific crime. But the affair is part of a bigger story of how the so-called Golden Triangle of Burma, Laos and Thailand is shifting to become the locus of massive methamphetamine production, and how complicit some units of the Thai army appear to be in the operations.

The nine have pleaded not guilty to murdering the 13, who were on two Chinese freighters allegedly carrying nearly a million amphetamine pills on the Mekong River. Thai Army Maj-Gen Prakarn Chonlayuth, who commands the Pa Muang Task Force which included the nine arrested officers, speculated that a minority ethnic Shan warlord, Nor Kham, based in Burma, had arranged the execution of the 13 Chinese seamen.

Prakarn suggested to reporters that the Shan warlord was extorting protection money from ships on the Mekong and, if owners refused to pay, the Shan gang would kill the crews, hijack the vessels and use the ships for smuggling drugs. No evidence has emerged, however, of anyone else's involvement in the case aside from the nine Thai army officers, although investigations were continuing.

All of the Chinese victims had been blindfolded, tied up and shot, according to Thai and Chinese media. In their defense, the army officers said they had heard about the assault on the ships by hijackers and later also boarded them, but announced they had discovered 920,000 hidden amphetamine pills and one dead Chinese crew member. A few days later, 12 other Chinese corpses appeared floating in the Mekong, prompting urgent demands by Beijing for Bangkok to investigate the case and punish the killers.

It is a major concern. The murders became a major point of contention between the two countries, with the Chinese suspending all shipping between Thailand and China on the Mekong.

The river has become an increasingly lucrative transshipment route for both countries after China dynamited sections of the river to widen it, streamlined import and export procedures, and improved shipping support facilities. It is also the focus of rising irritation on the part of local companies that are finding themselves increasingly squeezed out by Chinese shippers. According to Xinhua, 116 of the 130 ships involved in international shipping on the Mekong are operated by Chinese companies. They carry a total of 400,000 tons of cargo each way on that stretch of the river, which is flanked by Burma and Laos.

Another possible culprit is the United Wa State Army.