China on Wednesday said it was in touch with Indian authorities regarding the condition of the Indian sailors on board bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand and MV Anastasia, which have been stranded in Jingtang and Caofeidian ports for several months now, Hindustan Times reported.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, however, did not specify when the Indian sailors will be allowed to come home. Twenty-three Indian sailors were on board MV Jag Anand, which has been anchored near Jingtang port in China’s Hebei province since June 13. Meanwhile, 16 others were on MV Anastasia, which has been off the port of Caofeidian, also in Hebei, since September 20. Beijing has not allowed the vessels to change crew members to be replaced and stopped them from disembarking due to coronavirus restrictions.
“China has explicit stipulations on the epidemic control measures and quarantine of seafarers at ports,” Zhao said at a press briefing. “The local authorities of China have been in close communication with Indian side and replied to their requests in a timely manner. We also provide necessary facilitation and assistance while meeting certain quarantine and epidemic prevention requirements.”
No coronavirus cases have been reported on bulk carrier MV Jag Anand, as China continues to implement anti-epidemic protocols.
Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs had said that the Indian Embassy in Beijing was in contact with the Chinese authorities about the stranded sailors. “The owners of these shipping companies as well as the receivers of the cargo have been made aware of the reasons for delay in unloading of the cargo,” foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said.
Both India and China have been engaged in a standoff since early May along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh. The discussions to resolve it hit a stalemate after some initial disengagement. Both sides have made preparations to maintain thousands of troops and equipment in sub-zero conditions.