Japan to release Chinese activists
The headline on today’s Dongguan Times: “Japanese illegally detain people on China’s protected Diaoyu Islands, our Minister of Foreign Affairs again urged Japan to immediately release the people and their boat.”
The article describes China and Japan’s recent scuffle over the islands, and says “the Japanese plan to repatriate our 14 island guards tonight.” The Diaoyu islands are a group of islands claimed by China, Taiwan and Japan. The most recent incident started on the afternoon of August 15, when a group of seven activists from the Hong Kong-based “Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands” took a fishing boat into the vicinity of the islands and swam ashore.
Upon arriving on shore, five activists were immediately arrested by Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture Police for violating immigration control law on Uotsurijima (the Japanese name for the island). The remaining two swam back to their boat. Subsequently, the Japanese Coast Guard arrested all nine Hong Kong nationals who were still on that boat, trying to protect China’s sovereignty over the island.
The Dongguan Times says that, following the precedent of a similar case from 2004, the Japanese held a short trial for the detained Chinese nationals (five of whom were from Hong Kong, one from Macao and one from the mainland) and will release them immediately after so as not to exacerbate international tensions.
Already, there have been protests all over mainland China demanding the release of the 14 Chinese nationals. The China Daily reports that more than 100 citizens in Binzhou City, Shandong province joined an anti-Japanese march on Thursday morning, waving banners with slogans like “Safeguard territory”, “Boycott Japanese products”, and “Defend Diaoyu Islands.’ Groups of people also gathered outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and the Japanese general consulate in Shanghai. Among those gathered outside the Embassy in Beijing, two were senior citizens who threw eggs at the Embassy. They were persuaded to leave.
This story has made headlines across China for the past two days. The most popular picture newspapers used on Thursday, August 16, showed activists carrying three flags onto the Diaoyu islands: two from the PRC and one from Taiwan. Yet the Shanghaiist noticed that the Xiamen Economic Daily photoshopped the Taiwanese flag out of the picture so that it looked instead like a flag from the PRC. Other newspapers took a slightly more honest approach and simply placed headlines strategically to hide the Taiwanese flag. Click here for images of the Xiamen Economic Times photoshopping and other strategically-placed headlines.
Links and Sources
Dongguan Times: 日本非法抓扣中国保钓人士，我外交部再次敦促日方立即放人放船
Danwei: Chinese activists arrested by Japan on disputed Diaoyu Islands
China Daily: Protests continue over Diaoyu Islands row ; Demonstrations grow over Diaoyu Islands
Global Times: China holds “firm stance” over Diaoyu Islands
Shanghaiist: HK activists detained on Diaoyu Islands as South Koreans swim to Dokdo
Xiamen newspaper photoshops Taiwanese flag out of Diaoyu Islands photo