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China Says No 'Link' Between Stranded Indian Ship Crew and its Strained Ties with India, Australia

Representative Image: Reuters

Representative Image: Reuters

The External Affairs Ministry on Thursday said in New Delhi that two cargo vessels with a total of 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo though some other ships have managed to do so.

China said on Friday that there was no "link" between the situation of Indian crew on two stranded ships at Chinese ports and its strained relations with India and Australia. The External Affairs Ministry on Thursday said in New Delhi that two cargo vessels with a total of 39 Indians on board have been on anchorage in Chinese waters as they were not allowed to unload their cargo though some other ships have managed to do so.

"There is a considerable amount of stress on the crew members on account of this unprecedented situation," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. Srivastava said bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand is on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13 and it has 23 Indian sailors.

Another vessel, MV Anastasia with 16 Indian nationals as its crew, is on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since September 20, waiting for discharge of its cargo, he said at a media briefing. "Our Embassy in Beijing has been in constant touch with provincial and central government authorities in China, requesting that the ships be allowed to dock and/or the crew be allowed to be changed," he said.

Asked about India's concern relating to the Indian crew members of the ships and whether China's decision on this issue has related to the current situation between India, China and Australia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing on Friday "we stated repeatedly that China has clear stipulations on quarantine measures". "Concerning this, China has stayed in close communication with the Indian side and responding to their requests as well as providing necessary assistance for them, he said.

"As far as I understand, China allows the crew change while meeting certain quarantine conditions. But this Jingtang port is not in the list for such crew changes, he said. Wang however, did not refer to the 16 crew members of Caofeidian port.

"For more specifics, you may refer to the competent and local authorities, he said. "As to whether this has anything to do with the bilateral relations, I don't see any link, he added.

The relations between India and China were under stress over the current military standoff at Eastern Ladakh. The ties between Australia and China in the past few months nose-dived after Canberra barred Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies from its national 5G network over national security concerns. China also resented Canberra's push for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in April. Reports from Australia say China has been restricting a number of Australian exports, including coal.

China last month blamed the freight forwarder of Jag Anand' ship for the impasse, saying he is not letting the ship to leave.

first published:December 25, 2020, 18:25 IST