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Presidential Office stands firm on Tiaoyutais

TAIPEI -- The Republic of China will not budge on its sovereignty over the disputed Tiaoyu Islands, the Presidential Office said yesterday.

“The government will make an overall assessment to choose the most feasible and most effective way to defend our claim over territorial sovereignty,” the office said in a statement.

The office noted that President Ma Ying-jeou said in July that “we will not budge even one inch” on sovereignty over the island group in the resource-rich East China Sea currently under Japanese control.

The statement came following recent reports that activists from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan will meet in northern Taiwan, and depart for the Tiaoyutais to protest a planned visit by Japanese lawmakers to the islands Aug. 19.

Trip to the Tiaoyutais Cancelled: Activists

According to one of the Taiwanese activists Tuesday, however, the trip to the Tiaoyutais has been cancelled. The original plan was to rent a fishing boat at Toucheng in Yilan County Tuesday, meet up with a Hong Kong ship in waters off northeast Taiwan and then set sail for the Tiaoyutais, said activist Yin Pi-hsiung.

But due to pressure from many sides and in consideration of the ship owner's request, the group decided to change the plan and only transport supplies to the Hong Kong ship, Yin said.

“The ship owner refused to go out at the last minute, so the supply plan had to be called off,” Yin explained.

The Hong Kong ship is now in waters off Taiwan and it will be consulted on follow-up actions, Yin said.

Hong Kong Ship to Go Alone

Hong Kong activists said earlier in the day that their vessel is on its way to Taichung Harbor to stock up on supplies, and if ships from Taiwan and China are unable to join them, they will sail to the island group alone.

The planned trip by the activists was triggered by recent developments seen as efforts by Japan to bolster its claim to the island chain, known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara announced that the metropolitan government was planning to purchase the island group.

Ready to Respond to Any Outcome: MND

On July 26, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Japan may resort to military force to defend its territory, including the Tiaoyutais.

Also Tuesday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said that it has response measures in place to deal with any possible outcome of the Taiwanese activists' planned visit.

“The ministry has completed its measures related to the case and will follow the government's policy and the instruction of the National Security Council to undertake related missions,” ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said at a news conference.

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Hong Kong activists eat on their boat in Taichung harbor, yesterday. Their boat sailed to Taichung to pick up supplies yesterday morning. (CNA)

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