• Kyodo

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Authorities in southern China stopped 10 people from departing for the Senkaku Islands in another attempt to occupy the Japanese-controlled territory in the East China Sea, an organizer said Monday.

The activists claim the territory belongs to China.

The Communist Party secretary of Sansha Town in Fujian Province sent more than 10 official vehicles to stop the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands from setting sail Sunday, federation leader Zhang Likun said.

Zhang is one of the 10 who had hoped to reach the islands and was among seven people who made it to the islands in March, sparking a three-day diplomatic row.

He said the group’s 100-ton rented fishing boat was confiscated.

“At the last minute, we were savagely stopped by the local government,” Zhang said in a telephone interview. “They said that supposedly only fishermen can get on the boat and we don’t have fishermen’s permits. But I said we have citizens’ identification.”

He said the 10 had come from throughout China to take a one-day trip from Sansha, one of the closest mainland ports to the five-island Senkaku group, located about 330 km from the mainland China coast.

Control of the uninhabited islands, near rich fishing areas and possible undersea gas deposits, has been disputed since 1894. China, which calls the islands the Diaoyu, claims the islands, along with Taiwan and Japan.

The attempt from Fujian is the alliance’s first Senkaku landing attempt since March 24, when seven people reached the island of Uotsuri. Japanese police detained the group for three days before sending them back to China.

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