The crew were told to surrender their phones and content from each of the phones was uploaded to the authorities’ laptop for inspection, which was reportedly undertaken as part of the country’s nationwide anti-terrorist campaign.
The search was said to be for videos, files concerning terrorism or any other criminal related activity.
Additionally, the vessel was also advised that the same searches may continue as a routine inspection in the future.
“Although the authorities claimed that they didn’t download any personal information, the situation is somewhat disturbing,” West of England P&I cited the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA).
The flag state of the ship in question is now considering making a formal protest to the Chinese Government.
West of England P&I said that this incident could be related to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which opened on October 18, adding that “time will tell if the searches continue after that event has completed.”