New trip to Diaoyus planned

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 August, 2001, 12:00am

Activists hope to set sail for the disputed Diaoyu Islands again by buying a new boat to replace one rammed and sunk by the Japanese coastguard three years ago.

Lo Chau, chairman of the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, said yesterday they would make their fourth trip to the islands soon if they managed to raise $1.5 million, most of which would go towards buying a new vessel.

The fund-raising follows anti-Japanese sentiment fuelled by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's controversial visit to a Tokyo war memorial on Monday.

'Protecting the islands is an issue for all Chinese. We can feel the Japanese stepping on our heads until the mainland reclaims the archipelago,' Mr Lo said.

'We want to tell the Japanese we are not impulsive and we will not give up although they rammed our boat three years ago,' he said.

In 1998, activists were forced to abandon their protest boat, the Diao Yu Tai, which sank off the islands - disputed by China, Taiwan and Japan - after being rammed by Japanese coastguard vessels. The Diao Yu Tai made three voyages to the islands after it was bought in 1997 for $550,000.

The protests have also been marred by tragedy. Activist David Chan Yuk-cheung drowned off the islands during a protest voyage made in 1996.

Mr Lo said a one-month fund-raising campaign would be launched in Central today.

He said they would proceed with the voyage in three weeks if they raised sufficient funds.

A fund would be set up to save up for a voyage next year if they were unable to raise enough money this year. The committee had $80,000 in its account, he said.

Committee member Tsang Kin-shing said the Government had exercised 'political censorship' over their fund-raising activities. Police turned down applications for fundraising in Causeway Bay and Mongkok because they were too crowded, he said.