THE Hong Kong-based representative for the owners of a Chinese container ship which the US alleges is carrying chemical weapons to Iran has made offers for a third country to inspect the cargo - and has also called for cash compensation for the ''blockade'' near the Gulf. The Yinhe - which regularly comes through Hong Kong and was last in the territory in June - has been stranded for 12 days in international waters near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, unable to unload its cargo in Dubai following Washington's intervention. US Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Bruce Cole said yesterday the navy was maintaining surveillance of the vessel, which he said was now in Iranian territorial waters. Monitoring included visual sighting, radar contact, and could include aircraft surveillance, he said. ''US naval forces have done nothing to impede the progress of the Yinhe,'' Commander Cole said. The Guangzhou Ocean Shipping Company's chief representative in Hong Kong, Mr Cao Zang, yesterday called for a third country to inspect the cargo to prove to the US that the Yinhe was not carrying chemicals. Mr Cao said the ship was not going to Abbas in Iran, which had no container terminal in the port. ''The next discharging port is Dubai,'' he said. ''But because of the American blockade they have wasted much time.'' He said the Yinhe was on a regular service from Tianjin through to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta, Dubai, Damman and to Kuwait. ''The intelligence of the Americans is incorrect because there aren't any chemical weapons on the cargo ship,'' Mr Cao said. ''America said it was loaded in Dalian. This is not true. It came from the new port of Xingang, near Beijing, which is part of Tianjin port. The so-called American intelligence is incorrect. They are not clear about any stack in the cargo.'' Mr Cao wants the US authorities to pay the company for the time the ship has been stranded at sea, unable to off-load its containers and to pick up any new consignment of goods. ''The Americans should take responsibility for the loss of the cargo.'' When asked how much that would be, Mr Cao said: ''It is a big loss. The ship should go to Dubai as its first destination but the port has not allowed the ship to enter. From August 2, the vessel has been unable to sail due to the Americans.'' According to Mr Cao, the Yinhe frequently runs between the mainland and the Middle East, and is doing nothing illegal. According to Xinhua (the New China News Agency), the US ignored China's explanation about the vessel's cargo and took arbitrary action that prevented the Yinhe from reaching her scheduled ports. ''The ship was forced to be adrift on the high sea, subject to such extraordinary activities of interruption and coercion, including pursuit and photography by US warships and military aircraft,'' it said. The agency did not say what the US had done to prevent the ship from docking. But it suggested that at the very least US officials had put pressure on countries in the region not to allow the ship to enter a port. Mr Cao said the crew still had enough supplies but that if the Yinhe was not allowed to dock soon, food and water would run out. Mr Cao said the standoff could be solved by letting an independent expert check the ship. ''It is a Chinese container ship and the Americans do not have any authority to inspect the ship,'' he said. ''Can any other country inspect a foreign vessel? The Americans should let a third party check to see if there is any evidence of chemical weapons inside the ship.'' A US consulate source in Hong Kong said this was the first time anyone had mentioned compensation and that it had not been decided who would carry out any inspection of the Yinhe's cargo. ''We have some information about the ship and are concerned that it is carrying pre-cursor chemicals,'' the source said yesterday. The US first alleged on July 23 that the Yinhe was carrying thiodiglycol and thionyl chloride, which are dual purpose chemicals that can be used to produce mustard and nerve gas. Such a shipment would violate international accords barring the spread of chemical weapons. But in an interview on Friday, China's Assistant Foreign Minister Qin Huasun said Chinese authorities had checked the record of the loading and the receipt of loading of the cargo and made it clear no chemicals were on the ship. China gave the results of the investigation to the US Government asking them to stop the interference and explain ''the truth'' to the countries involved in the dispute. The ship was due to dock at Dubai on August 3 to unload its cargo, but local officials denied it permission to enter the port. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher said last week the US had reliable information that chemical weapons were on board. the ship and he was determined to inspect the Yinhe.