Thousands of people passing the Mong Cai International Border Gate

A bustling border gate

At 0645, Captain Nguyen Van Bien, Deputy Commander of the Mong Cai International Border Gate Station and Chief of the Mong Cai International Border Gate's Border Check Post, and his comrades, were at their positions to prepare for the gate opening. Mid February is not the peak of tourism season, but per day thousands of Chinese and Vietnamese people enter or exit the border gate to do business or visit China or Vietnam. The throngs of people passing the border gate normally begin at 0700 and end at 2000 every day.

“Traffic will be congested if a problem occurs at any steps,” said Colonel Nguyen Van Thang, Commander of the Mong Cai International Border Gate Station.

“Therefore, further reforming procedures to promote trade and tourism is one of the most important tasks of the Border Guards,” he added, pointing his hand to a long line of people queuing to cross Bac Luan Bridge to enter Vietnam.

Statistics gathered by the Quang Ninh Border Guard shows that at peak times over 10,000 people passing the border gate, including 3,000 to 4,000 tourists. In 2016 alone, over 1.5 million people passing the border gate, of which Chinese citizens accounted for over 720,000. Last year, commodities transported through this border gate also increased sharply in comparison to that of 2015.

Colonel La Hong Son, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Quang Ninh Provincial Border Guard Command, former Commander of the Mong Cai International Border Gate, said that he saw drastically positive changes each time he visited this border area. Meanwhile, security along the border line and at the border gate has been maintained, and administrative procedures have been improved to facilitate activities of people living on the two sides of the border line.

Normally, thousands of Chinese businesspeople pass the border gate to do business in Vietnam and vice versa. This people increased sharply since earlier this year when the Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee approved a pilot project to allow tourist vehicles to cross the border gate.

Fast procedures, safety maintained

At 1000, the peak hour at the border gate, hundreds of people were queuing to pass through. Zeng Sifan, a female tourist from Guangdong, happily took pictures with her friends after entering to Vietnam.

“The procedures were fast and smooth. And, the Vietnamese staffs were very friendly and helpful,” she said. “Surely, I will return to Vietnam,” she added.

Xu Hongxiang, another Chinese tourist who is to spend five days in Mong Cai, Ha Long, and Hanoi, said that he was friendly received and warmly welcomed by Vietnamese tour guides and border staffs at the Mong Cai Border Gate.

Meanwhile, Han Binhyou, who travels through the border gate twice a month to visit his friends and do business, is satisfied with the procedures at the border gate. “The Vietnamese staffs are very professional, polite, and friendly. Order is always maintained and the staffs are enthusiastic to guide tourists with their procedures,” he said.

Vietnamese businesspeople and tourists are also impressed by the services at the border gate. Dinh Thi Kim Kha, a staff of Quang Ninh - based Phuc Son Travel and Trade Company, revealed that each day her company is assisted by the border guards to settle border procedures for its tourists. Last year, a female tourist lost her handbag with nearly 9,000 yuan, two cell phones, and documents. Fortunately, with high sense of responsibility, officers and staffs of the Mong Cai Border Gate managed to find and return them to her.

Border guards of Quang Ninh province and those of Dongxing city in Guangxi province having regular exchanges to boost their ties

Soldiers at the border gate

Senior Colonel Tran Van Bung, Deputy Political Commissar of Quang Ninh Border Guard said that the command pays special attention to instructing its affiliate units well organize exchanges and twinning activities with their Chinese counterparts. Vietnamese and Chinese border forces share information, organize exercises to counter terrorism and handle unexpected situations. Especially, in 2013, the Mong Cai Border Gate Station was selected to implement the pilot model of twinning with a Chinese border station to ensure a peaceful border line. The success of the model helps finalize mechanisms for regular meetings between relevant forces of the two countries to better law enforcement and fight criminals or terrorism activities.

“Mong Cai has actually been transformed in border gate economic renewal,” said Duong Van Co, Chairman of the Mong Cai Municipal People’s Committee.

“The Border Guard in particular and the armed forces in general, contribute greatly to this development,” he said. In his opinion, the Border Guard can help the locality develop as its soldiers are close with the people and a border line of peace and friendship is a driving force for development.

Dynamic and prosperous future

Peace and development at the dynamic border area of Mong Cai was initiated by the joint resolve of the two parties and states to develop border economic zones.

Mong Cai plays an important role in Quang Ninh’s politics, economy, security, and external affairs. It is also a commercial gate connecting Vietnam, China, and ASEAN countries in the China - ASEAN Free Trade Area process and the development strategy “Two corridors, one belt.”

Additionally, China has approved to develop Guangxi’s Dongxing city, adjacent to Vietnam’s Mong Cai, into a special economic zone, facilitating cooperation with Vietnam and other ASEAN countries.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Party and State attach importance to Mong Cai’s development. Before 1998, Mong Cai had been a poor subsidized district. Now, it is one out of the two economic centers of the province with trade and services accounting for 73% of its economic structure. The city is also one out of the two tourist hotspots in Quang Ninh province.

Mong Cai has grown rapidly since 2009 and the Prime Minister approved a plan to develop Mong Cai Border Gate City to 2020, with its key development momentum of international trade, service, tourism, and transport. Accordingly, Mong Cai is planned to become the core of an open economic zone, contributing to boosting economic cooperation and cultural exchanges, and ensuring a border area of peace, friendship, and mutual development.

Furthermore, in 2015, the Prime Minister approved a master plan for socio-economic development by 2020, with a vision toward 2030, of the Mong Cai Border Gate Economic Zone, and another master plan to develop the area with the vision to 2050. It is expected that Mong Cai will become a free border gate economic zone covering Mong Cai city, and nine communes and one town of Hai Ha district.

Mong Cai actually has become the most bustling trading center in the Northeast of Vietnam. Its prosperous future of both nations is daily nurtured by throngs of people passing through the Mong Cai Border Gate and Vietnamese and Chinese border guards.

Translated by Ngoc Hung