HONG KONG – Hong Kong-based activists planning to land this week on the Senkaku Islands to assert Chinese sovereignty have called off their voyage after running into problems with Taiwan, the journey’s planned starting point.
The Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands accused the Taiwan government of blocking the protest.
“Because of persecution against our action to defend the Diaoyu Islands by the Taiwanese government, the Chuan Chia Fu vessel will not be able to set sail on the 15th, and we are canceling our plan to go to Taiwan,” the group’s chairman, Lo Chau, said in a statement Monday.
The group had planned a repeat of last year’s protest, which saw a handful of its members unfurling Chinese and Taiwanese flags upon landing on one of the five main islets in the small chain, called Diaoyu in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.
However, Lo said last week that the group’s plan to set sail to the islands on Monday from Hong Kong had to be postponed to a later date due to difficulties in getting a license.
At that time, Lo also said some members would join their counterparts in Taiwan this week and depart for the islands in the hope of arriving Thursday, the anniversary of their first visit.
A source said last week that the plan to depart from Taiwan was unlikely to be approved as “there is no room” for the protest after Taiwan and Japan reached a bilateral fisheries agreement.
On Aug. 15 last year, the group’s boat managed to evade Hong Kong police and Japan Coast Guard vessels and sailed close enough for some of the activists to land on Uotsuri, where they unfurled Chinese and Taiwanese flags before being detained and later deported by Japanese authorities.
On Sept. 11 last year, the central government purchased three of the five main Senkaku islets from their Saitama owner, sparking a wave of anti-Japan protests across China.