Actions of HK Diaoyu activists have 'harmed China', state paper says

Provocative moves by Hong Kong protesters have strained ties between Beijing and Tokyo, says People Daily's Japan-based news website

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 7:43pm

The head of People's Daily's Japan-based partner news website says the actions of the Hong Kong activists who landed on the disputed Diaoyu Islands have "harmed" China by fuelling Sino-Japanese tensions.

Han Xiaoqing , bureau chief for the Ri Zhong Xin Wen online paper, revealed this stance in an article titled "Hong Kong Diaoyu activists landed in the Diaoyus - Are they patriotic or harming the country?"

The article, published on the website last week, was posted yesterday on the online version of Global Times (a state-run newspaper) before the post was blocked later in the day.

"The nationwide demonstrations sparked by the [landing] and the angry men's sharply worded slogans have wiped out all the celebratory atmosphere from the 40th anniversary of Sino-Japanese diplomacy," Han wrote.

She said it was extremely important to maintain a stable relationship with Japan, as China had relied on low-interest loans for the past three decades from Japan's Official Development Assistance agency to build infrastructure. Total ODA disbursements to China stood at more than US$20 billion as of 2010.

Han wrote that Beijing's most urgent strategic goal was to build economic strength rather than to seize control of the Diaoyus, which are known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

"These so-called Diaoyu protectors from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland have time and again been arrested and detained on the islands … [This] sends a signal that is very unfavourable to China: Japan is effectively controlling the Diaoyus," she said.

The dispute was better left to the next generation, "who [are] cleverer than us", Han wrote, quoting the late Deng Xiaoping .

Global Times initially said Han was People's Daily's Japan bureau chief, but it clarified last night that she was in charge of the partner publication.

The article came amid a flurry of tense diplomatic exchanges between Tokyo and Beijing after the activists docked and tried to pitch Chinese flags on the disputed islands on August 14.

The 14 people on the expedition were detained for 16 hours before being deported.

Chan Miu-tak, chairman of the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, said: "I don't know if this is the official view … maybe we were stupid to have taken action, while they [the critics] are clever for just doing the talking."

Chan said they were looking for a lawyer to help them challenge a previous court injunction sought by Hong Kong's Marine Department against their fishing boat, Kai Fong No2. The activists sailed despite this injunction.

Lo Hom-chau, owner of the boat, said Han had "completely disregarded history".

"Since the Qing dynasty, when were the Japanese ever friendly to the Chinese? The loan was only to redeem their sins in the second world war, when they invaded us. People who hold this view are all for money and without morals," Lo said.