China denies imposing unofficial ban on commercial ships with Indian crew bound for Chinese ports

Beijing:  China on Tuesday denied imposing an unofficial ban on commercial ships with Indian crew to berth in its ports, saying that Beijing has never imposed such restrictions and the reports were “not true”.

Asked about the reports of the unofficial ban, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that after consulting relevant departments, it has been found that China has never imposed such restrictions.

We can confirm after verification that China has never imposed the so-called ‘unofficial ban’ you mentioned. Relevant reports by Indian media are not true, he said in updated comments posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website.

All India Seafarer & General Workers Union in a recent letter to Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal sought the Indian government’s help in saving the jobs of thousands of Indian seamen, as companies are not recruiting them for the China-bound ships.

The seamen’s body has claimed that as many as 20,000 seafarers are “home” because of this reason.

The union in its letter said, “from March 2021, any ship reaching China Port and having Indian seafarers as a crew on it, China government is not allowing all those ships to enter into the port.”

According to the Union, around 80 per cent of seafarers on various ships come from India, and “without them, the shipping industry will collapse and will be in big disaster.”

Earlier, two commercial ships with Indian crews had to divert to ports in other countries for crew change as the vessels had to wait for months to get the anchorage in Chinese ports.

A ship named “Jag Anand” with 23 crew members, after a six-month-long wait to unload its Australian coal cargo, last year had to travel to a Japanese port to change the stranded crew following refusal by Chinese officials citing COVID-19 protocols.

Another ship named MV Anastasia with 16 Indian crew, carrying Australian coal, waited for months to deliver cargo to Caofeidian port in China.

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