20 February 2002
On 12 February, a Panama-registered fishing vessel "Chen Long" was intercepted by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) in Northern Territory as it was inside Australian waters without permission. The 18 crewmembers on board were taken to a detention center in Northern Territory. When being aware that these 18 crewmembers were believed to be Chinese citizens, Chinese Embassy immediately sent out consular officials to visit them and make appropriate inquiries and verification.
Upon verification, these 18 crewmembers turned out to be Chinese citizens. Chinese Embassy has attached significant attention to this matter. So far the consular officials have comforted the crew and arranged them to get in contact with their families in China. Embassy officials have indicated to the Australian government that they hoped this matter could be settled in a fair and reasonable way, asking Australian government to treat these crewmembers in decent ways in line of humanitarian spirit.
At present, this case is still under investigation. Chinese Embassy is closely following the progress in relation to this matter.