I don’t speak French and Dutch, and always have difficulty following my Belgian colleagues’ reports. Having sensed my neighbor’s concerns, I decided to check on the story.
I first talked to the Chinese embassy in Belgium. Officials there told me that the embassy had sent an emergency team to the port, about 70 km from Brussels, to seek firsthand information.
The team later told local media that the media had exaggerated the dire situation of the Chinese crew, who have been forced to stay in Antwerp since March 14 due to the Taiwan ship owner’s financial difficulties.
Chinese Ambassador Liao Liqiang led another team to the freight vessel on Saturday, when I managed to talk with the captain and other sailors.
The brand-new vessel, Ladybug, usually transports Chinamade new cars and European secondhand automobiles to African countries. The 13-deck ship can carry 7,600 cars.
But the ship was ordered by a Belgian court to dock in Antwerp’s port because the ship owner, Taiwan Maritime Transportation Co Ltd, a bulk shipper and energy transportation firm, had filed for bankruptcy protection.