• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 4:29am

Diaoyu Islands

The Diaoyu Islands are a group of uninhabited islands located roughly due east of mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands. They are currently controlled by Japan, which calls them Senkaku Islands. Both China and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the islands. 


Chinese balloonist rescued by Japan after failed flight to disputed islands

Japanese coastguard plucks protester from sea before handing him over to Chinese patrol ship

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 11:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 January, 2014, 4:08am

A man working as a cook in Hebei province has been rescued by the Japanese coastguard after he tried to fly to the disputed Diaoyu islands in a hot air balloon and crashed into the sea about 20 kilometres short of his destination.

The man, identified as 35-year-old Xu Shuaijun by the Japanese coastguard, said he wanted to land on the islands in the East China Sea that are at the centre of a bitter row between the two countries.

The Japanese coastguard dispatched a helicopter in search of Xu after receiving a missing-person report from the Taiwanese rescue authorities on Wednesday. It found the half-deflated balloon and Xu about half an hour later.

Xu had issued a radio distress signal before his balloon went down.

He was picked up in international waters 22 kilometres south of the Diaoyus.

The Japanese coastguard later handed the man over to a Chinese ship patrolling to the west of the islands.

Xu left a message on his microblog yesterday saying he had returned safely to Fuqing in Fujian province, from where he had set off.

"I have returned safely. Thank you for your concerns," he said.

Xu took off from Fuqing at 7am on Wednesday and crashed about six hours later because of a mechanical failure, the Japanese Asahi newspaper said.

Xu, a licensed balloon pilot, was the first Chinese person to fly across the Bohai Bay in a hot-air balloon.

He accomplished the flight after only two years of practice, the China Sports Daily reported in July last year. The Bohai Bay flight was considered to be a challenge for even very experienced pilots, it said.

Xu said on his microblog in late September that he planned to go to the disputed islands by balloon and attached a chart of his planned 360-kilometre flight.

"Fly to the Diaoyu islands and be a Chinese with attitude," he wrote.

Dozens of internet users have expressed admiration for Xu's courage, but a few people also asked why he was rescued by the Japanese instead of his own countrymen.

Tension over the Diaoyu islands, which are called the Senkakus in Japan, escalated in November after Beijing announced an air-defence identification zone covering a large swathe of the East China Sea.

The balloon came down in an area outside China's air zone.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said the mainland coastguard had not attempted to rescue Xu because he was just a hot air balloon enthusiast.

He declined to give further details.

Professor Lian Degui, of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said it was normal for the Taiwanese authorities to inform the better-resourced Japanese coastguard if there was a problem in the area.

"The Japanese coastguard has more vessels and patrols around that area," Lian said.

The Taiwanese authorities should have informed their mainland counterpart if there were Chinese vessels in the area, he said.

Xu was born in Tangshan in Hebei in 1980, the China News Service reported two years ago. A news story on ballooning first sparked the high-school graduate's interest in the sport in 2007, the article said.

Xu, who worked as an internet administrator at a hotel earning less than 3,000 yuan (HK$3,800) a month, said he had saved hard so he could afford to pursue his passion for the sport.

Additional reporting by Teddy Ng


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This article is now closed to comments

And now he'll probably want to claim asylum in Japan...a true Chinese patridiot.
Seems he forgot to thank the Japanese for rescuing him.
Seems the Chinese are happy to let Japan take responsibility for patrolling the area.
What a loser!...........trying to go there to make a statement to the Japanese but only ended up needing them to rescue him............if you don't have the ability to make it there, rather drown in the waters then to have the Japanese rescue you............Remember that the next time you try such a stupid thing.
"A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said the mainland coastguard had not attempted to rescue Xu because he was just a hot air balloon enthusiast."
There you have it, China patriots. That's how much of a **** the motherland could give about your life. 5000 years of civilisation for what?
made in china balloon WiNK
Did China apologize to Japan for polluting the sea?
Wasn't this a violation of the ADIZ rules of flight? Didn't the PLAAF spot the balloon while it was lifting off from within China and then cruising over the sea? I suggest that Japan should send up 99 red balloons with Blondie's face plastered on the balloons and see how many make it to China....
it was a Ukrainian hot air balloon


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