HONG KONG – A fishing boat carrying Hong Kong-based activists asserting Chinese sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands will set sail again Tuesday following a failed attempt late Monday.
“About two dozen marine police officers climbed on our boat, broke into the wheelhouse and forced us to stop when we were about 6 nautical miles from open waters,” Lo Chau, head of the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, told the press about their failed attempt to “go fishing at open waters.”
The boat and the members were released by police early Tuesday.
Members of the group landed on one of the islets in 2012 in a protest to declare Chinese sovereignty over the disputed islets, called Diaoyu in China. They are also claimed by Taiwan.
Lo said they have no banners or other protesting props on board as they simply want to fish in the disputed area to prove their point.
The boat set sail Monday while as many as 13 vessels and speedboats and a tugboat followed at one point.
The captain decided to return to shore after police officers made it into the wheelhouse through a fire escape access.
The marine director has banned the boat from conducting nonfishing activities or leaving Hong Kong waters.
“The authorities acted as if we were drug smugglers,” group member Tsang Kin-shing said. “(The Hong Kong government) is acting as a quisling on behalf of (Japanese Prime Minister) Shinzo Abe. The ban is a disgrace to all 1.3 billion Chinese people. Why can’t Chinese people go to Diaoyu Islands — a Chinese territory?”
A similar attempt by the boat to leave Hong Kong waters for open-sea fishing two weeks ago was also foiled by police.