Activists back after Diaoyutais face-off
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Taiwanese fishing boat with activists onboard returned home yesterday after a face-off with Japanese coast guard ships near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.
January 25, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The incident was part of the activists' latest attempt to approach the area in a symbolic display of sovereignty over the island group amid swelling tensions in the region.
The ship, the Chuan Chia Fu (全家福), left Shen-ao harbor (深澳港) in New Taipei City early yesterday and entered waters near the Diaoyutai Islands at around 10 a.m. under the escort of four vessels belonging to Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA).
The seven people onboard the fishing vessel were Chinese Association for Protecting the Diaoyutais (中華保釣協會) Chairman Hsieh Mang-lin (謝夢麟), four fellow activists, the ship's captain, an Indonesian crew member and a reporter.
Hsieh previously told local media they were planning to install a statue of Mazu (媽祖) on one of the islands in the hope that the Taoist sea goddess would protect the safety of Taiwanese fishermen operating in the area.
As the Taiwanese ship moved toward the Diaoyutais, which is claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China, it was intercepted and blocked by eight Japan Coast Guard ships about 28 nautical miles from the island group.
At around 10:30 a.m., Japanese vessels began to fire water cannon at the Taiwanese ship. A The CGA patrol responded by firing a water cannon toward the Japanese coast guard ships.
After a standoff, the Chuan Chia Fu ended its operations and set off for Taiwan proper under the escort of the CGA fleet at around 11:30 a.m.
According to the CGA, this was the Taiwanese vessel's third attempt in a year to sail to the disputed island chain.
The CGA said three Chinese surveillance ships were also spotted near the area during the incident.