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Activists ready to depart for disputed Tiaoyutai Islands

ROC Central News Agency

2012/08/13 16:30:27

Taipei, Aug. 13 (CNA) A group of six or seven Taiwanese activists will depart for the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands Tuesday at the earliest and will join forces with Hong Kong activists to protest Japan's claim of sovereignty over the islands, one of the activists said Monday.

Weather permitting, the vessel carrying the Taiwanese activists will "most likely depart from Yilan County tomorrow" and rendezvous with Hong Kong activists at sea near Pengjia Islet off Taiwan's northernmost tip, said Hsieh Meng-lin, a member of the Chung Hwa Baodiao Alliance, which means "greater China alliance for protecting Diaoyutai Islands."

Speaking on the plan to meet a group of Chinese activists, Hsieh speculated that "they might not be able to come along."

According to local media, the three groups of activists planned the joint visit to the islands to protest a visit by Japanese lawmakers scheduled for Aug. 19.

Despite the authorities' hope for a peaceful process, the safety of the Taiwanese crew and boat will be top priorities, the Coast Guard Administration said, adding it will dispatch vessels with equipment to escort the boat if necessary.

However, a tropical storm is moving toward Taiwan and a sea warning is expected to be issued on Tuesday, so the Taiwanese vessel's trip may have to be postponed or canceled, the administration said.

Meanwhile, a day earlier, the Hong Kong group asked Chinese forces deployed in the special administrative region to escort its ship to the islands.

Chan Miu-tak, chairman of Hong Kong's Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, told CNA the group requested an escort from the People's Liberation Army for Monday afternoon.

Even if the Taiwanese and Chinese groups will not be able to meet up as planned, the Hong Kong ship will do its best to arrive at the islands, Chan noted.

The Tiaoyutai Islands, known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan in the East China Sea. The island group is claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan.

(By Claudia Liu, Liu Chien-pang, Stanley Cheung and Kendra Lin)

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