Diaoyu Islands

Diaoyu activists accuse government of stalling

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 5:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 6:25pm

Diaoyu Islands activists on Monday accused the government of dragging its feet over releasing their boat ahead of a second trip to the disputed chain.

Four members of the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands visited the Marine Department on Monday morning. Officials said the activists would be told on Monday afternoon if their fishing boat, Kai Fung No 2, was safe to travel to the islands.

The ship was damaged during a visit to the islands last month. Its licence was suspended on grounds of safety, but activists vowed to sail again in a few days whether or not the suspension was lifted.

Lo Chau, the boat’s owner and a committee member, said, “Every time it is our own government who bars us from sailing. We are not afraid of the Japanese. It’s safe to sail in this weather.”

The ship was damaged in a collision with a Japanese coastguard vessel, getting a 100mm crack in its bow and smashed safety equipment. It also lacks a high-frequency radio as required by the Marine Department.

Lo said the two marine officers who checked the boat were satisfied that those problems had been fixed. But they then raised concerns about the boat’s railings, which were bent in the collision with the Japanese vessel.

The activists who sailed on the ship to the Diaoyus last month planted the Chinese flag there, were arrested and deported. The mainland, Taiwan and Japan all claim ownership of the islands, known in Japan as the Senkakus.

The dispute triggered violent anti-Japanese protests across the mainland over the weekend.

Tsang Kin-shing, a committee member, said it would take two days to prepare for another trip to the islands. This time, reporters and camera crews from a Hunan television station, Taiwan Next TV, Ming Pao and Sharp Daily will be on board, he said.

Tsang and Lo planned to travel to Beijing on Tuesday morning to lodge a complaint in the capital’s court against the police in Naha, other authorities of Okinawa and Japan’s coastguard for “hijacking the boat and kidnapping the members” on Chinese land.

Tsang, who does not have a home return permit, said the Beijing government should let him into the mainland because he is a Chinese citizen.