Mainland, Taiwan activists pull out of Diaoyu trip

By Guo Kai Source:Global Times Published: 2012-8-15 1:45:05

A ship belonging to a Hong Kong activist group had to sail to the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea alone to make its claim of sovereignty, after its counterparts from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan Tuesday cancelled their plans to do the same.

The ship carrying seven activists from the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao was expected to reach Keelung, Taiwan late on Tuesday night for supplies, according to the group's website. And it is expected to reach waters near the Diaoyu Islands on Wednesday, the 67th anniversary of victory over Japan in World War II.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ship anchored in the waters near Taichung, after the local marine authority denied their application to reach land.  The activists were only able to procure limited freshwater supplies.

Meanwhile, activists in Taiwan announced on Tuesday that they had to cancel their trip to the Diaoyu Islands, after the crews they hired backed out due to pressure from authorities in Taiwan.

Li Yiqiang, an activist who was part of the joint move in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province, confirmed to the Global Times Tuesday that the mainland organization, which planned to send 12 activists to land on the Diaoyu Islands, also had to cancel the visit due to lack of government approval and severe weather conditions.

"We do not have our own boat, and the owners of hired boats always give in to the local authorities in Taiwan," Li said, noting the activists are collecting funds to buy a ship in Taiwan.

The mainland government has been cautious in loosening restrictions for people to defend the Diaoyu Islands' sovereignty, said Li, noting that the activists will not give up.

"We have witnessed some changing attitudes by the authorities. Letting the Hong Kong ship sail to the islands this time marks a great change. We hope the government can give us more room in safeguarding the islands, given that there have been more conflicts in the dispute," said Li.

The Japanese side has made preparations to intercept the activist ship by sending out helicopters to patrol the area, according to Japanese media.

To act in concert with the Hong Kong ship's trip, Tong Zeng, president of the Chinese Civilian Association for Safeguarding the Diaoyu Islands, told the Global Times that mainland activists will hold protests in front of the embassies and consulates of Japan and the US on Wednesday.

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