Stranded Indian Seafarers Being Provided “Convenience” Under COVID-19 Limits, Says China

The Indian ship “Jag Anand” had been stranded at China’s Jingtang port since June, it was carrying a huge consignment of Australian coal to China and had 23 crew members on board. The crew members were seeking immediate relief as the ship remained in the queue ever since its arrival. China reported on Tuesday that, it was providing “convenience” within the permissible COVID-19 limits to all the 23 crew members of the stranded Indian ship.

According to a statement by ITF-Asia Pacific Region, the plight of these seafarers had been highlighted by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), National Union of Seafarers of India, and International Maritime Organisation.

MV-Jag-Anand---Great-Eastern-Shipping
Image Credits: OCEANCRAFTS Motion Gallery – YouTube

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin was interrogated about concerns highlighted by ITF over the predicament of the Indian seafarers onboard the vessel, in response to which the reply was, “As I understand, China has clear regulations on ports epidemic prevention and control and crew members quarantine requirement and as much as the regulations allow, we are providing convenience to these crew members.”

“As for the specifics, I would still refer you to the competent Chinese authorities or relevant local government.”, he added.

The details of the plight of the Indian crew were being discussed with the provincial government since September, said the Officials of the Indian Embassy. The Hebei province is where the stranded vessel’s port is located.

They said that the Hebei government responded by saying that due to strict COVID-19 related protocols, the ship will remain in the queue for berthing, and crew change won’t be allowed. The Hebei government also said that in case of emergency they will provide any medical assistance required to the crew and stated that the ship can leave whenever it chooses to.

The officials added that the responses of the provincial government have been conveyed to the shipping company. On Monday, China said it had no reports or information on the ship.

The China and Australian relationship has been tense and took a nosedive in the past few months, this happened when the Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies was barred from Australia’s national 5G network due to national security concerns. Several Australian exports have been restricted by China, including coal. China was angered by the fact that Canberra had pushed for an international inquiry to dig into the origins of the coronavirus in April.

Moreover, China also felt offended by the Australian law that was passed in 2018 saying it banned covert foreign interference in domestic politics and made industrial espionage for a foreign power a crime. A report in the Chinese Govt. controlled Global Times said that China had stooped traders from buying seven categories of Australian products: sugar, timber, wine, coal, barley, lobsters, copper ore and concentrate.

Reference: outlookindia.com

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