On Tuesday, China denied that it had imposed an unofficial ban at its ports for commercial vessels with Indian crew. It said that Beijing has never imposed any restriction and the reports were inaccurate.
Asked about the reports of the ban, Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said during a media briefing that on consulting some of the relevant departments, it had been found that China never imposed any restriction of this sort.
The relevant reports shared by the media are untrue. In the latest letter to the Minister for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, sought the help of the Indian government in securing the jobs of thousands of Indian seafarers, as companies have not been employing them for any China-bound vessels.
The seamen’s body has said that about 20,000 seafarers are “home” owing to this reason. The Union mentioned in its letter that from March this year, ships trying to enter China Port with an Indian seafarer crew were prevented.
According to the Union, nearly 80% of seafarers on vessels had come from India. Without these Indian seafarers, the shipping industry would collapse, resulting in a big disaster. Earlier, two commercial vessels that had Indian crews on them had to divert to ports of other countries. They had underwent a crew change as those vessels had been kept waiting endlessly for anchorage at Chinese ports.
Last year, Jag Anand, a ship with more than 20 crew members, waited for six months to unload its coal cargo. It then had to travel to a Japanese port where they changed the stranded crew after Chinese officials refused them. Chinese officials cited COVID-19 protocols as reasons for prohibition. Another ship, MV Anastasia, with about 16 Indian crew members, carrying Australian coal had to wait for several months to deliver cargo to China’s Caofeidian port.