Ninety Diaoyu Islands activists were greeted by thunderous applause from well-wishers when they returned yesterday from planting the Chinese flag on the disputed archipelago. Relatives and supporters swarmed into the Kai Tak arrival hall to deck it with banners well before the China Airlines flight touched down. Exuberant clapping and chants of 'Defeat Japanese militarism' exploded as the tired group walked into the hall. But the welcome swiftly grew sombre with a minute's silence in memory of David Chan Yuk-cheung, who drowned last month while trying to swim in the sea off the Diaoyus. His sister, Chan Lai-ying, tearfully accepted flowers from Chan Yu-nam, who planted the five-star flag on one of the islands on Monday morning. 'Our family is very happy and encouraged to learn that we Chinese have eventually set foot on the Diaoyu Islands,' Ms Chan said. 'David's sacrifice has aroused the concerns of Chinese people worldwide about their country and their land.' Mr Chan Yu-nam's wife, Tam Kwai-lin, said she was relieved her husband had returned safely. 'I was a bit worried about his safety. I read everything about the voyage to keep up with their situation.' His son, 16-year-old King-yin, said his father was a hero: 'He made it. I'm really proud of him.' Protest leader and legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan said the mission owed its success to the support of all Chinese people. 'There will certainly be a place of honour in the history of China for those who have helped and supported us to make our landing,' he said. Mr Ho said he was saddened at violent protests by Taiwanese separatists early yesterday outside the group's Taipei hotel. 'It's a shame for the Chinese that there are such narrow-minded groups putting their interests above their country's,' he said. The protesters wanted the Hong Kong activists to apologise for 'interfering in Taiwan's internal affairs' by landing on the Diaoyu Islands and planting a mainland flag there.