China says Indian sailors stranded due to Coronavirus measures, not standoff

Beijing: China on Friday said there was no connection between the circumstances of the Indian sailors or mariners on two cargo ships conveying Australian coal abandoned at Chinese ports and the present status of ties between the nations.

The foreign ministry of China said the two vessels were stuck at the ports in light of quarantine measures set up because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Approximately 39 Indian sailors on two load vessels – MV Jag Anand and MV Anastasia – have been abandoned in waters off the Chinese ports of Jingtang and Caofeidian in the northern area of Hebei for a while.

The ships have not been permitted to release their cargo, and the team has not been permitted to land either, affecting their psychological and physical wellbeing, as per reports.

The External Affairs Ministry had questioned the Chinese authorities’ decision to not permit the ships to depart the ports.

Spokesperson External Affairs Ministry said, “We understand that some other ships, which arrived after the Indian ships arrived, have managed to discharge cargo and leave. The reasons for this are not clear.”

Wang Wenbin, Spokesperson Foreign Ministry on Friday said during the media briefing, “We stated repeatedly that China has clear stipulations on quarantine measures. Concerning this, China has stayed in close communication with the Indian side and [has been] responding to their requests as well as providing necessary assistance to them,” reported Hindustan Times.

He said, “As far as I understand, China allows the crew to change while meeting certain quarantine conditions. But this Jingtang port (where the ship Jag Anand is stranded) is not on the list for such crew changes. As to whether this has anything to do with the bilateral relations, I don’t see any link.”

There are 23 Indian crew members individuals on the bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand, in the arbor close to Jingtang port in the Hebei area since June 13. Another 16 Indian team individuals were on the MV Anastasia, in dock close to Caofeidian port since September 20. The two vessels are holding on to release the payload.

A report by ANI in November had said the 23 Indian crew members on board were looking for help from the Indian government to get back, and some are experiencing medical problems and the boat is running low on prescriptions, the report said.

“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,” Srivastava had said on Thursday.