Diaoyu Islands

Storm forces activists to delay voyage to disputed Diaoyu Islands

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 August, 2007, 12:00am

A voyage by about 30 activists to the disputed Diaoyu Islands, scheduled to leave yesterday, has been postponed to Wednesday due to a storm in the East China Sea.

The decision was made after an emergency meeting on Saturday night.

'We got the information from the captain about the storm and he said it was not suitable to sail ... so we called an urgent meeting last night around 11pm and decided to postpone it to Wednesday,' Ku Kwai-yiu, spokesman for the activists, said yesterday.

The voyage was originally scheduled to leave yesterday from Tsim Sha Tsui pier and reach the Diaoyus on Wednesday.

Mr Ku said only one boat was scheduled to make the voyage and due to the postponement, the activists were likely to incur increased expenses.

He said there was not enough time to raise additional funds but they would spend the remaining time preparing for the trip. 'We will keep in close touch with the captain but we still need to see how the weather goes.' he said.

The voyage will be the sixth expedition since 1996 and activists' leaders say the voyages will continue until Chinese sovereignty is reclaimed. The islands are claimed by Japan, the mainland and Taiwan.

Lo Chau, the former chairman of the Hong Kong-based Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, who is chief commander for this year's voyage, said the campaign was a presentation of national sentiment.

'The real engagement would be on the diplomatic and military level between the states,' he said. 'Our participation aims to arouse public concerns and remind them Chinese soil is still under Japanese invasion.'

On the first voyage in 1996, activists planted the Chinese flag on the islands, but voyage member David Chan Yuk-cheung drowned during the mission.

Two voyages took place in 1997 and one in 1998 but were all driven back by Japanese coast guard vessels.

Dwindling finances halted the expeditions until last year, when two secondhand vessels were secured and the voyages resumed.

Committee chairman Raymond Chan To-wai said the campaign was now at a 'low tide', with public figures such as former chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan leaving the frontline.

But more young people would be recruited to join the voyages.