Monday, September 24, 2012

WORLD NEWS: 100 Taiwan vessels to sail in island protest

Local fishing vessels from Yilan are set to sail for the Diaoyutai Islands at 3pm from Yilan County today in one of Taiwan's largest-scale sovereignty protests yet over the disputed islands.

Clad in T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “protect fishing rights for survival” on the front and the ROC national flag printed on the back, Yilan fishermen are setting sail to defend their fishing rights in waters near the islands as well as to reinforce Taiwan's sovereignty claim over the islands.

The fishermen plan to assemble 20 nautical miles southwest of the disputed islands at 5am Tuesday, and circle the islands afterward.

Former Chairman of the Yilan County Longline Fishery Association Lin Jih-cheng said that the fishermen will not set foot on the islands during the protest. The y will, however, sail as close as 12 nautical miles off the island group, Lin said, adding that they will also communicate their concerns about fishing rights to the Japanese government via banners.

Chen Chun-sheng, chairman of the Su'ao District Fishermen's Association, emphasised that the purpose of the operation is to protest Japan's “nationalisation” of the island chain and also to advocate the rights of Taiwanese fishermen. The operation was made possible with a NT$5 million (US$170,500) donation to subsidise fuel costs, Chen said.

Thousands of activists took to the streets of Taipei to rally against Japan's recent “purchase” of three islets in the disputed Diaoyutai chain during the “923 Baodiao Protest March” at 2:30pm esterday.

The demonstrators marched from the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to the Interchange Association of Japan in Taipei to deliver a letter of protest against the Japanese government's move to “nationalise” the resource-rich islands in the East China Sea, according to the Central News Agency.

The protesters chanted slogans such as “The Diaoyutais are ours” and called on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to join arms against Japan's sovereignty claim to the territory.

Political parties such as the New Party  and the People First Party have expressed their support for the protests.

Since Japan moved to “nationalise” the islets on September 11, tensions over the Diaoyutais have rapidly escalated, sparking protests both in Taiwan and mainland China.-Asia News Network (September 24, 2012)

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