A different trade war is brewing in Chinese waters as ships and crew remain stranded there. 2 Indian ships with 39 sailors also face a similar fate as New Delhi has launched a rescue mission to retrieve them.
While Beijing alleges it’s due to COVID-19 restrictions analysts dear that this is part of China’s border feud with nuclear-armed Asian neighbors, India has launched a bid to rescue 39 seafarers stranded in Chinese territory for months now.
Diplomatic Battle To Rescue Seafarers
Speaking about the rescue mission, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that India is in touch with China to provide necessary humanitarian relief to the seamen.
At present 23 seafarers are stranded on MV Jag Anand in the Jingtang port of China’s Henri province while 16 seafarers are stranded on MV Anastasia at a harbor in Caofeidian.
Both ships are stranded in Chinese waters from June and September respectively.
Srivastava underlined how the Chinese authorities have conveyed that “on account of various COVID-19-related restrictions imposed by the local authorities, crew change is not being permitted from these ports”.
“The owners of these shipping companies, as well as the receivers of the cargo, have been made aware of the reasons for a delay in the unloading of the cargo,” he said.
However, many experts believe this to be a ruse to keep the sailors stranded as a result of worsening relations between India and China.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Professor of Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Srikanth Kondapalli said that the tension between the 2 countries could be a contributing factor in this. This could be a mild retaliation attempt by China
He further added that this is a normal affair faced by sailors all over the world. However, if this continues to happen regularly and such incidents increase then it can be regarded as a Chinese retaliation.
Indo-Chinese relations have reached a stand-off in the northern border of India in Ladakh where tension has been brewing in the last 8months. This was triggered by clashes between India and China in the Galwan Valley back in June which took the life of 20 Indian soldiers. This situation quickly escalated as both countries heavily fortified their borders at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with fresh troops and ammunition.
Indian officials including the Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan have highlighted the extent of the situation as they called it the most difficult phase of relationship with China in 30 years, pointing out how trust has evaporated overnight after the Galwan attack.