Protests erupt in mainland and Hong Kong after Japan arrests Diaoyu 14

Demonstrators gather on the mainland and in Hong Kong to protest at the arrest by Japan of 14 activists

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 12:08pm

Demonstrators protested at Japan's diplomatic missions across the nation to demand the release of activists who landed on the Diaoyus, which Japanese call the Senkaku Islands.

In Guangzhou, about 50 demonstrators gathered at the Japanese consulate, shouting slogans and burning Japanese flags.

One of the protesters, Su Qiang, 37, who said he works at a property management company, said he had organised the protest after hearing the news of the activists' arrest.

"I mobilised my colleagues and friends, and ordered banners and flags overnight. We need to voice our support for our Hong Kong counterparts as they were illegally detained on our land," he said.

The activists were from Hong Kong, the mainland and Macau.

The protesters left the consulate at around noon after a consular representative received their petitions, but about 100 war veterans regrouped at the mission hours later with giant national flags and sang patriotic songs.

In Shanghai, 30 protesters gathered outside the Japanese mission in Changning, raising banners and chanting slogans. More than 100 protesters also raised banners in Bingzhou in Shandong province. In Qingdao , dozens of protesters handed in a petition to the Japanese consulate.

A group of six arrived at the Japanese embassy in Beijing at noon, also waving national flags and chanting "Free our compatriots". Police asked them to leave, but they returned 10 minutes later. Sporadic protests occurred outside the embassy yesterday, involving different groups.

The World Chinese Alliance in Defence of the Diaoyu Islands and the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands had to call off a planned protest at the embassy. Li Nan, an activist, said officials asked them to cancel the protest and kept some of his counterparts under close surveillance.

Zhou Yongsheng, an international relations professor at China Foreign Affairs University, said Beijing wanted to contain public discontent ahead of the 18th party congress.

In Hong Kong, representatives of groups from both the pro-establishment and pan-democratic political camps went to the Japanese consulate in Exchange Square, Central, to protest against the arrest of the activists, crew and reporters.

Protesters included Kwok Wai-keung and Bill Tang Ka-piu from the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions, who demanded the immediate released of the activists, while members from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) also protested.

A representative for Yuji Kumamaru, the Japanese consul-general in Hong Kong, accompanied by police and security guards, received petitions from groups of protesters.

Legislative Council candidates from the Democratic Party and Civic Party criticised Japanese coastguards for allowing their vessels to hit Hong Kong fishing vessel the Kai Fung No 2 and for arresting the 14 activists, crew and journalists on board "in an unreasonable and barbaric manner".

Pan-democrats rolled eggs with images of the Japanese flag, a metaphorical call for Japan to "get out" of Chinese waters and territory.

That call was echoed by protesters from a group called the Guardian of the Motherland, which marched from the HSBC headquarters in Central to Exchange Square.

Teddy Ng, Mimi Lau, Louise Ho and Tony Cheung