China urges release of cruise liner
Updated: 2013-09-15 00:24
The detained Chinese cruise,the Henna, is anchored at a coast off Jeju Island in the Republic of Korea on Sept 14, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]
BEIJING - China's National Tourism Administration (NTA) asked on late Saturday for the immediate release of a Chinese cruise liner,the Henna, which was detained on Friday in Jeju Island, the Republic of Korea (ROK), by a local court upon a request of another Chinese company.
The NTA has contacted the ROK Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and asked the ROK side to take measures and release the cruise liner as soon as possible, an NTA spokesman told Xinhua.
The NTA also required operator of the cruise to take measures and ensure safety of all passengers.
The ship, with 1,659 passengers and a crew of 650 on board, was scheduled to sail at 4:00 pm Friday from Jeju to Incheon. It was detained before departure by a Jeju court which received a seizure application on claims of legal disputes from a subsidiary company of Jiangsu Shagang Group Co Ltd.,the cruise operator said on Saturday.
The cruise Henna remains detained in Jeju Island and there has not yet been any notice on when the cruise could depart, said Dang Qingchen, a press officer of HNA Cruise, the cruise operator.
The Chinese Consulate General in Jeju Island and HNA Cruise are negotiating with the ROK side for an earliest possible departure of Henna, Dang said.
Meanwhile, the company said in an online statement that it is making plans to compensate passengers appropriately for their losses.
The cruise has opened up entertainment venues for free, and offered 24-hour catering service. All supplies are sufficient, the statement said.
The company also said that the arrest of the ship has restricted passengers' freedom and seriously harmed their legal interests. The company condemns the practice and reserves the right to pursue legal liability through law for any losses due to the irresponsible practice.
However, the company did not specify what kind of legal disputes that the Jiangsu Shagang subsidiary company claimed, which had led to the detaining of the ship.
Dai Bin, a researcher at the China Tourism Academy, said no commercial dispute should infringe upon tourists' legal interests.
According to the International Convention on the Arrest of Ships, a ship may be only arrested in respect of maritime claim but in respect of no other claim.
Maritime claim means a claim arising out of one or more of the following such as loss or damage caused by the operation of the ship, salvage operation, and damage caused by the ship to the environment.