HK activists vow to set sail anew for Diaoyu isles

Advocacy group expects mainlanders to partake in visit poised for Tuesday despite safety-related suspension of vessel

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 September, 2012, 3:45am

Hong Kong activists have pledged to sail to the disputed Diaoyu Islands again as early as Tuesday, amid a police reminder that their vessel's licence is suspended for safety issues.

The Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands is expected to be joined by several mainland activists. But a co-ordinator who tried to visit Hong Kong disappeared near Shenzhen's border on Thursday.

The committee, which says it has about 50 members, is also mobilising a global anti-Japanese rally for tomorrow.

Japan's consulate in Hong Kong has reminded its citizens to avoid the protests and to refrain from making radical comments.

Committee member Tsang Kin-shing, also known as "The Bull", says they will inform the Foreign Ministry in Beijing for protection before setting sail on Tuesday at the earliest.

Last month, they succeeded in docking at the Diaoyus, also known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

This time, the group seeks to commemorate the Mukden Incident, which Japan used as a pretext to invade China in 1931.

"Japan provoked 1.3 billion Chinese by buying [part of the islands on Tuesday]," Tsang said. "I believe Chinese people around the world are angry at Japan invading our lands."

Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said the licence for Kai Fung No2, the activists' vessel, had been suspended.

"It is the Marine Department's responsibility to ensure the safety of ships. The police also have the responsibility to support the department's enforcement action," Andy Tsang said, when asked if marine police would intercept the vessel when it sets sail again.

"Bull" Tsang says the suspension on Tuesday was due to four "safety defects" the marine authorities cited, including a hole in the hull. The activists have fixed the problems and will invite the authorities to inspect the vessel again on Monday.

Tsang says the activists will break through the police cordon if the authorities use any unreasonable excuse to stop them from sailing.

The Marine Department said the vessel's owner should apply for the suspension to be lifted after the repairs were completed.

Meanwhile, the People's Rights Union of China said its member Wu Chengfang, who was travelling to Hong Kong to discuss mainland activists' participation in the rally and subsequent voyage, went missing when she tried to visit the city on Thursday. Union chairman Liu Weiping said he feared she had been caught by security personnel.

The Action Committee plans to mobilise 2,000 to 3,000 people to march from Victoria Park to Japan's consulate in Central tomorrow.

Tsang, who vowed to sue Japan over his detention last month, also urged Chinese nationals elsewhere to march to their local Japanese embassy.