China's state media issued a stark warning to Japan yesterday over interfering in the Diaoyus, with a Communist Party mouthpiece saying Beijing is prepared to take action to defend its sovereignty over the disputed islands.
The rhetoric came as about 30 mainland activists protested at the Japanese embassy in Beijing, demanding China declare war against Japan to claim the islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan.
Waving Chinese national flags, the protestors chanted slogans demanding China take action against Tokyo after Japan arrested five Chinese activists who landed on the islands. Seven others on the boat were arrested "China should declare war against Japan to claim back the Diaoyu Islands," one banner read.
Police stepped up security around the embassy, but the protestors were largely uninterrupted. They presented a letter, with a blade enclosed, addressed to Japan's prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda. "Noda commits a crime that is unforgivable by Chinese people," the letter said. "Your only way out is to cut open your belly with the blade."
Chen Fule , one of the activists, said they had no plan to sail to the islands as they "were having difficulty in renting a boat".
In a move seen as indicating Beijing is preparing to take tough action, a commentary in the overseas edition of People's Daily said China had no reason to tolerate Japan's actions and could respond to the dispute in a way similar to its handling of tensions with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal, known as Huangyan Island, in the South China Sea.
Action taken by Beijing over the shoal dispute included curbing imports of bananas from the Philippines, and warnings from officials Beijing was prepared to take necessary action to defend its territory.
"If diplomatic rhetoric does not calm Japan down, then only action can force Japan to retreat," said the commentary written by Jia Xiudong , a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies.
The commentary said China would not hesitate to "eradicate Japan's illusion to get control of the Diaoyu Islands".
The Global Times, published under People's Daily, warned in an editorial that "Japan must abandon the illusion that China will retreat in the face of Tokyo's provocation".
"Japan has to make a choice: back up and create the conditions to reduce tensions … or head into a full confrontation with China. Whatever Japan's choice, China will respond accordingly," it said. "China has no reason to compromise with Japan over the issue."
In Taipei, several dozen activists demonstrated in front of Japan's de facto embassy. "Stop occupying Diaoyu Islands," they shouted outside Japan's Interchange Association, which represents Japan in Taiwan in the absence of official ties.
"Despite all odds, we will never give up and we will do all we can to go to the Diaoyu Islands and declare our sovereignty over them," said Yin Pi-hsiung of the Taipei-based Chung Hwa Baodiao Alliance.
Yin and three others were forced to cancel plans to join Hong Kong counterparts in travelling to the islands after the boat skipper refused to sail, in what they say was "pressure from government authorities."
Taiwan's foreign ministry, however, said the government would never obstruct any fishing boat operations as long as they were legal.
On a proposal by some Taiwanese activists that Taipei should co-operate with Beijing in asserting sovereignty over the island group, foreign ministry spokesman Steve Hsia said: "We will never co-operate with the mainland over this issue."