Kai Fung No 2 returns to a hero's welcome

Updated: 2012-08-23 06:41

By Li Likui(HK Edition)

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7 Diaoyu Islands activists come home to flowers and cheering

When the fishing boat Kai Fung No 2 drew alongside the public pier at Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui on Wednesday, a crowd of waiting supporters erupted in cheering. On board were seven activists from among the group of 14 Chinese nationals who sailed to the Diaoyu Islands to assert China's sovereignty. Bouquets and floral hoops were dedicated to the seven on board as they set foot on the pier. Among the enthusiastic welcoming crowd were the other seven members of the mission who flew back to Hong Kong last week.

The boat entered Hong Kong waters at around 8 pm on Tuesday after four-and-a-half days at sea, on a journey slowed by mechanical problems. It tied up briefly at Cheung Chau, where four crew members were to reunite with family members on Wednesday morning at the end of their 10-day ordeal.

The group of 14 sailed for the Diaoyu Islands on August 12. They managed to evade a Japanese attempt to blockade their passage. Five members of the mission were able to land on the islands on August 15 and erect a Chinese national flag, shouting "Defend China's territory," and "Japan get out of the Diaoyu Islands". After negotiations, seven members of the group flew back to Hong Kong on August 17, while the rest of the group decided to sail back with the fishing boat.

The owner of the protest boat, Lo Hom-chau attributed the trip's success to the activists' determination to take the trip as a "road of no return".

"Japanese patrol ships were shooting water cannons towards us and crashing our boat, which led to water coming into the boat and everything on the boat was scattered away," said Lo.

Lo expressed his regrets to his companions that he had only prepared food for two days and half the gasoline oil needed.

Lo, who stayed on the boat during mission, said he hoped that one day he could set foot on the islands. Lo also thanked the public for its support in the "defense of the Diaoyu Islands".

A crew member, Cheung Kam-moon, who took his two sons on the voyage, said the hull of the ship was damaged when it was hit by the Japanese vessels. So was the handrail on the deck and the glass of the cabin. "Luckily, the bottom of the ship is not impaired. The boat still needs a thorough check," he said.

Still, Cheung said he would go to the islands again if given another chance. Cheung's daughter, who didn't know her father was the one steering the boat to the islands until Cheung appeared on TV, said she would support her father if he insists on going to the islands again, but she doesn't want him get hurt.

The captain of the ship, Yeung Hong, described the mission as "successful", saying he is very happy to be home and didn't expect so many people to welcome the group back. Yeung said the trip was a victory of strategy and tactics, including taking advantage of the mishaps of Japan Coast Guard patrol ships.

Yeung said when he returned to the ship after placing the Chinese national flag on one of the islands, he cried for five minutes out of joy and pride. He said he is considering writing a travel log about the 10-day trip and will think about making the log public.

After leaving the pier, the group went to celebrate, mission accomplished.

Also, Charles Lo Chung-cheon, one of the seven activists who flew back to Hong Kong, said on a radio program on Monday that the group had brought three stones from the islands, but lost them when they arrived at Hong Kong International Airport. It was planned that one of the stones will be dedicated to the Hong Kong Museum of History. Lo urged people who may have found a red plastic bag, with three stones inside, to return it.


(HK Edition 08/23/2012 page1)