TV crews ordered to leave

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 1996, 12:00am

Hong Kong television news crews were yesterday stopped by Japanese coastguards as they sailed for the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Crews from TVB News and Cable TV News yesterday morning left in fishing boats from Keelung, a port on the north coast of Taiwan.

TVB News' boat was about one kilometre off the islands when it was stopped by a speedboat with six armed Japanese coastguards on board.

Its camera clearly captured two Japanese flags on a hillside facing China.

When asked why the reporters' boat had been stopped, one coastguard replied: 'The islands belong to Japan. The Japanese Government says the islands are Japan's territory.' The coastguards then boarded the fishing boat and threatened to detain the people on board if they did not leave.

A Japanese reconnaissance plane and three armed cruisers followed the vessel as it left the area.

The boat carrying the Cable TV crew, which had on board a group of Taiwanese protesters, was also stopped by three armed Japanese cruisers.

The coastguards blew a warning whistle and told the fishing boat to leave.

The protesters hoisted a Taiwan flag when coastguards unfurled banners with the words 'The Japanese Government requests you to get out of Japanese waters', which they hung on the sides of two of the cruisers.

The confrontation lasted for an hour, with the fishing boat finally leaving the area at about 7.30 am after the Taiwanese protesters burned a Japanese military flag.