‘Expect China to Provide Urgent Assistance to Sailors’: MEA

The MV Jag Anand and MV Anastasia, with a number of Indian sailors onboard, have been stuck in anchorage for months.

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The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday, 1 January, released a statement on the ongoing crisis with China over the two Indian ships which have been stranded in Chinese ports, noting that the Indian embassy in Beijing has repeatedly taken up the issue with Chinese authorities.

“We have noted the statements of the Chinese side, expressing their willingness to extend their assistance in this matter. We expect that this assistance will be provided in an urgent, practical and time-bound manner, given the grave humanitarian situation that is developing on board the ships.”
Statement by MEA Official Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava

The issue at play is that two cargo ships – the MV Jag Anand and MV Anastasia – have been restricted in anchorage near the Jingtang and Caofedian ports respectively. The Jag Anand, with 23 Indian nationals, has been stuck since June 2020, and the Anastasia, with 16 Indian nationals on board, has been stuck since September 2020.

The vessels are still waiting for the discharge of their cargo, which China claims is because of COVID-19 related restrictions.

“There is a growing stress on the crew members on account of the long delay,” the statement by official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava read, adding that, “Given this and our concern for the increasingly difficult conditions for our crew members, these two cases are being pursued vigorously.”

The MEA has explained in its response to the media that the Indian ambassador to China has personally taken up the issue with the Vice Foreign Minister in Beijing, requesting that the ships be allowed to dock or at least change their crews.

“While the shipping companies are examining the logistics of sailing the ships away from their current points of anchorage, our Embassy is liaising with relevant authorities in Tianjin, for berthing approvals to facilitate the crew to facilitate the crew change. We have also requested the shipping authorities to ensure that they file in their plans for crew change at the earliest for approvals by the local Chinese authorities.”
Statement by MEA Official Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava

The Indian embassy in Beijing has already written to Chinese authorities asking for approval to get a crew change at sea for the MV Anastasia, which would at least ensure that the crew can go home. The Chinese MFA has also reportedly said that while a crew change may not be possible off Jingtang port (where the MV Jag Anand) is anchored, it may work at the Tianjin port instead.

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