The two Indian traders abducted by Chinese workers in Yiwu in eastern China were on their way to Shanghai on Wednesday evening ending the three-week ordeal during which they were tortured and feared for their lives.
Shyamsunder Agrawal and Deepak Raheja were escorted out of the Yiwu hotel in which they were holed up for two days by Indian consulate officials from Shanghai. Under heavy police protection for the past few days, the two were taken out of the trade hub of Yiwu after the Chinese government detained five persons for illegally detaining them.
Locals had held them hostage since the middle of December after the company for which the two worked defaulted on the money owed to workers from nearby villages.
Beijing promised action against those locals who broke the law but denied that the Indian diplomat who fainted and was hospitalised while negotiating the release of Agrawal and Raheja was ill-treated and denied to access to food and medicine.
The denial was the Chinese government's first reaction to the incident which led to the summoning of the deputy chief of mission Zhang Yue in New Delhi to the ministry of external affairs.
Beijing urged New Delhi to look at the incident from an "objective and just perspective" and ensure that Indian businessmen follow Chinese laws while doing business.
On allegations that diplomat S Balachandran was manhandled, the government said that China "ensures the physical security for foreign counsellor officials and provides convenience and facilities for them to carry out their duties."
"China hopes that the Indian side will look at this case from objective and just perspective and educate and get the Indian businessmen in China to abide by China's laws and regulations and conduct business in good faith," Hong Lei, spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs, said on Wednesday.
On the issue of the illegal detention of the two Indians, he said legal proceedings were being initiated against five persons.
"Public Security officials of Yiwu have adopted criminal enforcement measure against five suspects who were involved in illegal detention and relevant case is due for investigation," he added.
"China always attaches great importance to maintaining the rights and interests of foreign businessmen in China. The two Indian businessmen are in the hotel. They are afraid to take actions and the local police have taken measures to ensure their security," Hong Lei said.
Meanwhile, speaking to HT from Delhi, Pawan Kumar of the Federation of Sadar Bazar Trades Association said more than 200 traders from the market go to Yiwu every month to do business.
"The advantage is that in Yiwu we can even by small quantities (five to 10 cartons) of goods. The locals are mostly very cooperative,'' Kumar, who himself goes to Yiwu once every two months, said.
A report by the Office of the US Trade Representative in December had listed Yiwu as among 15 "notorious markets" dealing in pirated and counterfeit goods. According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, the USTR report described "as a center for the wholesaling of pirated goods and the market of origin for many counterfeit goods."
More than 1.7 million kinds of small commodities, mostly consumer goods, are sold around the world each year from the Yiwu Small Commodities Market, the Xinhua report added.