TAIPEI – Activists supporting Chinese sovereignty over the disputed Senkaku Islands and surrounding waters said Saturday that protesters in China will set out Sunday from Xiamen on a voyage to the area and that Taiwan-based protesters will also set out within days.
Huang Hsi-lin, chief executive of the Taiwan-based Chinese Tiaoyutai Defense Association, told reporters at a conference in Chungho, Taipei county, that a number of fishing vessels are scheduled to set out from Xiamen and that, sea conditions permitting, Taiwanese activists will set out as early as Sunday.
The disputed islands are known as the Senkaku in Japan, the Diaoyu in China and the Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.
Details of the Taiwan-based protest, such as ports of departure and number of boats and onboard activists, are being withheld to avoid intervention by the authorities, whom activists complain have cracked down on their activities in recent years.
Huang said protesters will fish near the islands and attempt to disembark with a statue of Matsu, the patron goddess of fishermen.
“We’ll worship Matsu and have a barbecue,” he said.
In recent years the activists have enjoyed no government or opposition patronage and have little public support.
But the protests could exacerbate acute tensions between China and Japan over the continuing detention of a Chinese skipper after his boat allegedly rammed two coast guard vessels in Japanese waters near the Senkakus on Tuesday.
The ramming incident, one of a growing number of confrontations between Japanese and Chinese vessels in the region, triggered public protests in Beijing and Hong Kong last week.
Huang was one of more than 100 mostly veteran activists from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau and overseas Chinese communities who attended the conference Saturday.
In a message dated Tuesday that was read at the start of the conference, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou extended his best wishes for the meeting.
“It is my greatest hope that with this esteemed conference, consensus . . . can be reached in probing the practicalities of maritime economic territory, guaranteeing the livelihood and rights of fishermen and contributing all strength in the interests of regional peace, cooperation and prosperity,” he said.
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