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China Rejects Claims of "Unofficial Ban" on Commercial Vessels Having Indian Sailors Onboard

© AP Photo / Rafiq MaqboolIndian serviceman stands guard on board tu warship Godavari during its decommissioning at the naval dockyard in Mumbai, India, 23 December 2015
Indian serviceman stands guard on board tu warship Godavari during its decommissioning at the naval dockyard in Mumbai, India, 23 December 2015 - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.07.2021
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According to seafaring outfits, Indians constitute nearly 80 percent of the global merchant shipping workforce. Nearly 240,000 Indian sailors joined the merchant navy in 2020, with almost 210,000 joining foreign shipping companies and the rest finding employment with domestic firms.
The Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday rejected claims that Beijing has imposed an “unofficial ban” on commercial vessels employing Indian seafarers.
"We can confirm after verification that China has never imposed the so-called unofficial ban you mentioned. Relevant reports by Indian media are not true," said Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
He was responding to a question from the Indian media at the ministry’s daily press briefing.
The All-India Seafarers and General Workers Union, a Mumbai-headquartered outfit claiming to represent the interests of Indian sailors, claimed on 23 July that more than 20,000 sailors have been sent home by their employers (shipping companies) due to Beijing not allowing them to work at Chinese ports.
“The All-India Seafarer Union requests that the higher authorities look into this serious issue and help us to save the job of our seafarer brothers,” states the letter, which was sent to the federal ministry of ports, shipping and waterways.
​While Indian sailors constitute a sizable share of the global merchant shipping workforce, they have faced problems operating in the Chinese waters since the onset of the COVID epidemic.
Last year, several dozen Indian sailors aboard foreign-flagged vessels were left stranded off the Chinese ports after their ships were rejected permission to dock due to the China-Australia trade spat at the time. The merchant vessels were said to be carrying Australian exports destined for China.
The Indian sailors at the time complained that the Chinese authorities were rejecting their permission to disembark from the vessels for the purpose of changing crew, which then prompted an intervention by the Indian government.
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