China criticises India over missing of trader

Beijing: An Indian trader has gone missing in China`s commodity market hub of Yiwu, officials said today, as Beijing criticised India`s second trade advisory warning that it would affect normal bilateral economic exchanges. Indian embassy officials here told PTI that an Indian trader from Mumbai, who was based in Yiwu for a while, was reported to have been missing by his relatives.

His name has been withheld by the embassy for security reasons. He was reported to have gone missing on May 19 and his mother from Mumbai had contacted the Indian mission and complained that he was not seen since then. This was the second such incident in recent months.

Two Indian traders Deepak Raheja and Shyam Sunder Agrawal, who too had gone missing, were later found to have been abducted by local Chinese traders for non-payment of dues to the supplies bought by their company, which was owned by a Yemenese national who reportedly fled from China. The two complained of torture and were released from the illegal detention in January after India officially took up their case. The two are currently based in Shanghai and fighting their case with the aide of the Indian Consulate there.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei sounded critical of the new advisory issued by Indian embassy here that warned Indian businessmen that they could be drawn into a lengthy and questionable judicial process if they run into problems with traders in Yiwu. "China always safeguards the legitimate interests of foreign businessmen, including Indians," he told a media briefing here when asked about the advisory as well as the second case filed against the two Indian traders.

"Indian embassy`s advisory is not conducive to resolving the relevant issue but will also affect normal trade and economic exchanges between China and India. We hope that India could view the case in a rational and objective way…," Hong said. Raheja and Agrawal said they had already paid RMB nine lakh (USD 1.43 lakh) during their illegal detention and had been asked to pay RMB 1.1 million more.

Just as the proceedings of their case were coming to an end in a court in Jinhua, yet another complaint was registered against them stipulating that they should pay RMB 1.8 lakh. Indian officials expressed frustration over the way the second case was filed, four months after the original one was slapped against the duo. The new case was filed as the two traders were hoping of a fair judgement from the Jinhua court following a critical view taken by the judge of the local traders` case.

The new case meant that the two traders, against whom a travel ban had been imposed, would have to stay in this country for a longer period. Raheja told PTI that the Indian mission had expressed its inability to pay for their lawyer as they had no approved funding for the purpose. They said they were completely broke and their families had sold out properties to moblise RMB Nine lakh.

The Indian advisory to traders, the second since January, warned on Monday that "pressures may be exerted to sign documents under duress; such documents could be used against them in a court of law. Signatures on documents in Chinese language may be obtained under pressure; services of an interpreter should be invariably insisted upon," the advisory said. "If the due process of law seems to be leading towards a judgement in favour of the Indian party, there is a high possibility of fresh cases being lodged in order to exert additional pressure on Indian businessmen."