China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - BRUS­SELS JOUR­NAL

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.

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