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China slams harassment of ship crew by US Customs

By Wang Qingyun | China Daily | Updated: 2023-08-30 07:28

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin speaks at a press conference in Beijing, on Aug 29, 2023. [Photo/fmprc.gov.cn]

China has made serious demarches to the United States over the interrogation and harassment of the crew members of a Chinese vessel, and urged the US to stop disrupting people-to-people exchanges and trade between the two countries.

The crew of Zhenhua 28, a Hong Kong-registered vessel that belongs to a Shanghai-based company, was interrogated by US law enforcers in Jacksonville, Florida, in July.

US Customs and Border Protection officials reportedly boarded the vessel for an inspection and collected biometric information, including fingerprints, of the crew members, who were asked if they are members of the Communist Party of China, or if they are from the army or the government.

The US officials confiscated electronic devices belonging to some of the crew members.

As a result of this, the vessel's departure from the US had to be postponed, which in turn disrupted the ship's operations and the work and life of its crew members, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday.

"It must be pointed out that in recent years, the US has placed barriers to the entry of Chinese citizens under various pretexts, including unreasonable interference in the entry of Chinese students holding valid visas. In particular, it has often interrogated and harassed Chinese nationals on the grounds of their political beliefs or CPC membership," Wang said.

He added that this is a stark manifestation of ideological bias and Cold War mentality. "We deplore and reject it," he said.

The spokesman urged the US to stop its unjustified interrogation and harassment of Chinese nationals traveling to the US and stop infringing on their lawful rights.

The US should also stop undermining bilateral people-to-people exchanges and trade cooperation under the pretext of national security, and prevent similar incidents from happening again, Wang said.

China will take all necessary measures to safeguard Chinese citizens' lawful rights, he said.

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