China has said that reports of unofficial ban on commercial ships with Indian crew to berth at its ports are inaccurate. Responding to a Prasar Bharati question, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that that after consulting relevant departments, it has been found that China has never imposed such restrictions.
He said, the reports in Indian media were “not true”. The union told Prasar Bharati, Beijing that shipping companies are not taking Indian crew members now after a ship with Indian crew faced trouble in berthing at a Chinese port. They expressed apprehension that it is being done to promote Chinese crew in this industry. According to the Union, around 80 per cent of seafarers on various ships come from India, and “without them, the shipping industry will collapse and will be in big disaster.”
All India Seafarer & General Workers Union in a recent letter to Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal sought the Indian government’s help in saving the jobs of thousands of Indian seamen, as companies are not recruiting them for the China-bound ships. The union claimed that as many as 20,000 seafarers are sitting at “home” because of this reason. The union in its letter said, “from March 2021, any ship reaching China Port and having Indian seafarers as a crew on it, China government is not allowing all those ships to enter into the port.”
Earlier, two commercial ships with Indian crews had to divert to ports in other countries for crew change as the vessels had to wait for months to get the anchorage in Chinese ports. A ship named “Jag Anand” with 23 crew members, after a six-month-long wait to unload its Australian coal cargo, last year had to travel to a Japanese port to change the stranded crew following refusal by Chinese officials citing COVID-19 protocols. Another ship named MV Anastasia with 16 Indian crew, carrying Australian coal, waited for months to deliver cargo to Caofeidian port in China.