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Seven Diaoyu activists return home
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-26 23:44

Seven Chinese citizens being illegally detained by Japan after their landing on the Diaoyu Islands were on their way back home Friday from Okinawa.

The seven arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 21:18 on Friday on China Eastern Airlines flight MU 88 and are in good health, sources said.

Their return resulted from repeated demands by the Chinese Government and diplomatic consultations.

Officials from the Chinese Embassy to Japan visited the seven when they were held in Naha, capital of Okinawa, by the Japanese side, according to sources with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The seven set sail for the Diaoyu Islands as part of a statement that the land involved is part of Chinese territory.

The Diaoyu Islands were seized by Japan in 1895, when Japan defeated Qing Dynasty forces. The islands were under US control after World War II, and the United States turned them over to Japan in 1972.

The seven are Feng Jinhua, Zhang Likun, Yin Dongming, Hu Xianfeng, Wang Xiqiang, Fang Weiqiang and Yin Hongmin.

The vessel they used to approach the Diaoyu Islands, Zhepuyu No 21114, as well as nine activists returned to a port in Leqing in the coastal province on Thursday afternoon after a 61-hour journey.

Yu Haize, organizer of the campaign to land on the Diaoyu Islands, spoke to the media on his return.

"We eventually landed on the Diaoyu Islands, but seven people who landed on the island were detained by the Japanese coast guard," Yu said.

A total of 16 Chinese volunteers took part in the mission. Seven landed on the island at 6:26 am on Wednesday, after they left a port in Leqing at 1 am on Tuesday.

Japanese warships and helicopters intercepted their ship on Wednesday afternoon 12 nautical miles off the island, as the Chinese activists planned to return home by the fishing ship.

The Chinese ship first encountered Japanese warships around 3 pm on Wednesday, and was forced to change its route, and leave the area off the islands.

China had since demanded the Japanese side guarantee the security of the seven detained Chinese citizens, and release them immediately and unconditionally.

Kong said this illegal action by the Japanese side constitutes a serious provocation of China's territorial sovereignty and an abuse of the human rights of the Chinese citizens.

China has lodged nine representations to the Japanese side, Kong said, underscoring the stance of the Chinese Government on the Diaoyu Islands issue. Namely, Diaoyu Island and the attached islets have been part of Chinese territory since ancient times and China has indisputable sovereignty over these islands.

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