China today denied imposing an unofficial ban on commercial ships with Indian crew to berth in its ports, saying that Beijing has never imposed such restrictions and the reports were "not accurate".
Asked about the reports of the unofficial ban, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that after consulting relevant departments, it has been found that China has never imposed such restrictions. "The relevant reports by the media are not accurate," he said.
The All India Seafarer & General Workers Union, in a recent letter to Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal, sought the government's help in saving the jobs of thousands of Indian seamen, as companies are not recruiting them for the China-bound ships.
The seafarers' body has claimed that as many as 20,000 seafarers are "home" because of this reason.
The body said in its letter that from March 2021, any ship having Indian seafarers as crew members is not being allowed to enter ports in China.
According to the body, 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".
Earlier, two commercial ships with Indian crew members 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 protocols. Another ship named MV Anastasia with 16 Indian crew members, carrying Australian coal, waited for months to deliver cargo to Caofeidian port in China.