A group of Hong Kong activists have begun a “symbolic” voyage to the East China Sea aboard the Bao Diao II, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The fishing boat, aptly named “Defend the Diaoyu II”, plans to raise a Chinese flag on the disputed islands on the anniversary of the day Japan surrendered during World War II. The activists, from Hong Kong-based “Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands,” ignored government orders to turn around, according to the city’s marine department.
The Bao Diao’s route includes a stopover in Taiwan, where a local vessel will join the voyage to the Senkaku, known as Diaoyu in Chinese, in a supposedly rare show of patriotism among ‘Chinese’ territories.
“Chinese people landing on China’s legal territory is entirely right and proper. We must fight to the end!” the group posted amongst live updates through social media site Twitter. Taipei Times was reporting that the Coast Guard Administration intercepted the Taiwanese vessel off the coast of Greater Taichung “to avoid the perception” that Taiwan was teaming up with China.
The Japanese Coast Guard have previously intercepted foreign vessels attempting to visit the islands to lay claims, and says that it that it will block the Bao Diao if necessary. Japanese social media buzzed with frustration over the Chinese, saying that the islands were part of Japanese territory. Tensions escalated when Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara proposed to purchase the islands.