Another Indian trader goes missing in Yiwu

An Indian trader has gone missing in the Chinese town of Yiwu, after an unidentified man took him away from a local restaurant, in an incident that is set to trigger a fresh commercial and diplomatic dispute, amid already rising strains between India and China regarding the safety of businessmen in the southern trading hub.

Indian officials told The Hindu the trader from Mumbai, who was in Yiwu on a temporary visa, was taken away on the night of May 19. He has remained unreachable since then.

Two Indian traders, who were accused of owing Chinese suppliers 10 million RMB ($1.58 million), were kidnapped in December, and held for more than two weeks, before Indian officials pressured Chinese authorities to arrange for their release. Their case is now being heard at a local-level court in the nearby town of Jinghua.

The kidnapping of another Indian is set to further strain ties, particularly after the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday hit out at an advisory issued by the Indian Embassy here a day earlier, warning Indian businessmen of the dangers of doing business in Yiwu, a major trading hub in the southern Zhejiang province, after fresh cases were filed against the two traders.

“The Indian Embassy’s advisory isn’t conducive to resolving the relevant issue, and will also affect normal trade and economic exchanges between China and India,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said at a briefing.

“We hope that India will view China’s handling of the case in a rational way,” he said, adding that China “always safeguards the legitimate interests of foreign businessmen, including Indians”.

Mr. Hong, in a briefing in March, called on Indian traders to honour their compensation commitments. The traders argued at a court hearing last month that they were only employees of the trading firm that owed the dues, with the Yemeni owner missing. One of the traders, Deepak Raheja, told The Hindu on Monday the traders had presented documents supporting their case to the court, and they had been hopeful of a favourable verdict.

A fresh case filed by suppliers in Yiwu at a local court in January, accusing the two Indian traders of owing a further 1.6 million RMB (Rs. 1.39 crore), triggered Monday’s advisory from the Indian Embassy, which warned of “a high possibility of fresh cases being lodged in order to exert additional pressure on Indian businessmen.”

The circumstances surrounding the disappearance of another trader from Mumbai on May 19 are still unclear, although indications are that his trading company had run into a commercial dispute with suppliers in Yiwu.

Dozens of foreign businessmen are reported to have been held captive by Yiwu traders when deals encounter problems. They are usually released after dues are settled and cases usually aren’t made public. Indian traders who are based in Yiwu have played down the cases, describing them as the norm in the entrepreneurial and often lawless business environment in many parts of southern China.

One Indian trader, who spoke to The Hindu, said kidnappings happen “only if you owe large sums of money.” “If you pay your dues, there is no problem, and Yiwu is a place where you can do a lot of business,” the trader from New Delhi said.

He added that several traders had expressed concerns regarding the advisory issued by the Embassy. “You cannot say the whole town is a bad place to do business because one or two people haven’t settled their dues,” he said. “We worry that this will harm the good business that several hundred Indian traders are doing here, with no problems.”

Indian officials said they have received panicked calls from more than half a dozen Indian businessmen in Yiwu, Shaoxing and some other trading hubs in Zhejiang and neighbouring Guangdong in the past year alone, after traders were held hostage because of payment disputes.

“Perhaps, this is a feature of doing business in the Pearl River Delta,” said one official in an interview earlier this year, referring to China’s southern manufacturing and trading heartland.

The incident may trigger a fresh dispute between India and China

Circumstances of the disappearance still unclear

China anti-prostitution raid: One more Indian held –

One more Indian trader was detained in China on charges of indulging in prostitution in addition to the four already held in Shanghai for the offence.

An Indian trader, based in Yiwu, which housed China’s biggest wholesale commodity market was arrested in an anti-prostitution raid by the local police during the last weekend, Indian officials said.

The Indian Consulate in Shanghai was informed about the detention of the trader today.

Already four Indian businessmen, part of a 100 member Indian delegation attending a commercial fair were arrested in Shanghai three days ago in a similar raid.

They are still in detention and the Indian officials were expected to meet them after May 3 as China is shut down for the May Day holidays.

All the five were expected to be deported at the end their detention in the coming days.

Indian officials say that such cases are becoming more regular as the trade picked up between the two countries. Over a hundred Indian traders stayed put in Yiwu sourcing large number of commodities for Indian markets.

Last year alone over USD two billion worth of goods were reported to have been sourced from there to India.

However Yiwu was also acquired the notoriety for ruthless trade practices as two Indians, Shyam Sunder Agrawal and Deepak Raheja, stated to be employees of a trading company were kidnapped and held in illegal custody for about fortnight after their company failed to make payments for the goods purchased.

They were released after the intervention of the Indian Consulate in Shanghai and are currently facing a court case.

Following the case the Indian Embassy here issued strong advisory highlighting problems in conducting business at Yiwu.

Earlier 13 Indian diamond merchants were released and 10 others were convicted for smuggling.

Yiwu to blacklist untrustworthy foreign merchants with closer supervision

  BEIJING, Yiwu, March 28 (Reporter Zhang Yan) “We will strengthen the daily supervision of foreign and foreign-funded enterprises and foreign partner enterprises, some of the commerce process against the interests of merchants and guilty of the violations included in the to the blacklist “. Afternoon, Bao Rong Jian, Yiwu City, Zhejiang Province, Deputy Secretary for Commerce in boosting the pilot reform of the international trade services, economic development news conference, said Trade and Industry Bureau to give full play to the business functions, lead and growth of foreign companies but also to regulate their behavior, as Yiwu International Trade reform pilot to make a better service.

Yiwu: India Takes Up Traders’ Case With China Again |

India today asked China to allow two Indian traders facing legal proceedings in this country to return home pending resolution of their case, but Beijing said they cannot leave without paying dues to local businessmen.

The issue of Deepak Raheja and Syam Sunder Agrawal, who had threatened to commit suicide if they were not sent home, was taken up by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in New Delhi.

This was the third time in the last two months that Krishna took up the traders’ issue with Yang, Indian embassy sources here told PTI.

Indian officials said they have been urging the Chinese Foreign Ministry to permit the duo to go back home as they can return whenever the court wants them.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, however, told a media briefing here today that the two should comply with the court order to pay compensation to the Chinese businessmen.

As a country under rule of law, China “protects the legitimate rights and interests of people concerned,” he said replying to a question on the traders.

“As far as we know (a) local court has tried to mediate the case and handled it according to law. Since the two Indian businessmen up to now have not honoured their compensations commitment relevant court has ordered these two not to leave.

“This order is still in effect. Hope the businessmen will truly respond to the demand of relevant Chinese businessmen so that the issue can be properly handled,” he said.

Hong was referring to a lower court’s order in Yiwu. But since early this month, the case has been taken up by a higher court in Jinhua, which reserved its order on the duo’s plea that they were only employees of a company which owed dues to the tune of over a million RMB (USD 1.58 lakh) to the local businessmen.

Raheja said that though they were earlier accused of owing 10 million RMB, the court document only says over a million RMB.

The Indian consulate in Shanghai said they had to arrange a lawyer with the great difficulty as no advocate in the city was willing to take up the duo’s case.

Besides funding their lodging, food and medical expenses for a month, the consulate sent its officials to be present in the court.

A diplomat, S Balachandran, was manhandled when he tried to seek their release in Yiwu court in January.

Indian officials here also met the Chinese Foreign Ministry officials and appealed to them to permit the two to go home as they can return any time the court wants them.

So far the consulate has spent 43600 RMB (about USD 7000) on the case and now stopped the payment saying that they have no provision to continue to pay their expenses. They want USD 128 per day for maintenance.

Meanwhile, the two are on hunger strike since yesterday, a day after they were thrown out of the hotel where they were staying due to pending bills, and sent e-mails to media threatening to commit suicide one after another in a week if they were not sent back home.

The Indian consulate today arranged to get their passports back from the hotel and send them to Yiwu to renew their visas, sources at the embassy here said.

The court has put a travel ban on them.

The Indian embassy and consulate are doing what they can do, an embassy official said. “We have arranged their train tickets for Yiwu and gave some pocket money.”

He said rules permitted Indian missions to provide financial assistance to stranded Indians only for 15 days, whereas in this case the expenses of the duo have been paid for a month.


Yiwu Indian Traders Sleeping On Streets of Shanghai

Beijing, March 29: Two Indian traders who are awaiting judgment from a Chinese court over a bitter dispute with businessmen in the southern trading hub of Yiwu were forced to spend Tuesday night sleeping on the streets of Shanghai because they have run out of money, The Hindu reported. 

Deepak Raheja and Shyamsunder Agarwal stand accused of owing 10 million RMB ($1.58 million) to Chinese traders after the Yemeni owner of their trading firm fled abroad leaving unpaid dues.

The two traders were held hostage in Yiwu for over two weeks in December by Chinese suppliers. They were subsequently allowed to leave for Shanghai following a court hearing, and were being looked after by the Indian Consulate in the city while awaiting the verdict.


The Consulate had so far spent around 45,000 RMB ($7,142) on their hotel bills and living expenses, but had to stop payments as they did not have the approval from New Delhi for further funds, an official said.

“We were thrown out of the hotel because we could not pay the bills, and had to spend Tuesday night sleeping on the street,” Raheja said in a telephone interview.

The two traders have written to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi seeking financial assistance of $128 a day until the verdict is announced.

While thanking the Consulate for its support over the past weeks, Raheja said he is in a “dire” financial situation after paying 900,000 RMB ($143,000) out of his own personal savings to suppliers while he was being held captive. Both traders do not have access to any other funds, he said.


The traders have also asked to be allowed to return to India, though there is little likelihood of that until the case is resolved. Chinese prosecutors and dozens of suppliers hold them accountable for a vast sum of money, while court authorities are in possession of their passports.

Hearings on the case began on March 1 at an Intermediate court in Jinhua, near Shanghai. Suppliers accused the two Indian traders of being liable for the dues, and have produced documents and receipts, with the traders’ signatures, to prove their case.

Raheja is arguing that the signatures were made under duress. He said he was only an employee in the firm, which he claimed was owned by a Yemeni national who has absconded. He has also filed a case against the suppliers for kidnapping and torture, and demanded the return of his money.


Indian officials have asked Chinese authorities to speed up investigations and announce a verdict soon to resolve the matter. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna raised the issue with his counterpart Yang Jiechi during a visit here last month, when he also met the two traders. “It has already been three weeks since the hearing,” an official said. “This situation cannot go on forever.”