Activists from both sides of the Taiwan Strait who advocate the defense of the disputed Diaoyutai islands (釣魚台) yesterday scaled down their plan to sail to the islets to claim sovereignty after seven people from Hong Kong and Macau backed off.
The seven dropped out after the National Immigration Agency told them joining the protest was inconsistent with the purpose for which their entry permits were issued and it would result in the revocation of their permits and a “denial of entry to Taiwan in future.”
Taipei County Councilor King Chieh-shou (金介壽), who together with the activists called on the governments on both sides of the strait to take a “stronger stance” against Japan on Saturday, also dropped out, citing difficulty renting boats because of government intervention.
PHOTO: PATRICK LIN, AFP
“It was really difficult to rent a boat. Not only was it expensive — at a cost of NT$300,000 to NT$500,000 — the government also threatened the boat owners and said it would revoke their license if they rented us their boats,” King said.
Despite the withdrawals, two Taiwanese activists stuck with the plan and set sail yesterday.
Chung Hwa Baodiao Alliance executive director Huang Hsi-lin (黃錫麟) and alliance member Yin Pi-hsiung (殷必雄) set sail on a 10-tonne fishing boat with a captain and two crewmembers from Yeliou Harbor (野柳), Taipei County, at 3:55pm.
A Coast Guard Administration (CGA) patrol ship followed in their wake.
Coast Guard official Shih Yi-che (施義哲) said the patrol would escort the fishing boat throughout the trip to “ensure their safety.”
The Japan Interchange Foundation, Tokyo’s semiofficial mission in Taipei, lodged a protest with the Ministry of Forrign Affairs after the vessel was allowed to leave port, calling the move ‘’extremely regrettable,” adding that it could have an adverse effect on relations between Taiwan and Japan.
The fishing boat is expected to approach the Diaoyutais early this morning.
“We want to show our support for the [Chinese] mainland ship seized by Japan and to fight for the rights of Taiwanese fishermen in the area,” Huang said.
The Diaoyutais, which are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potential natural gas deposits, are located 193km east of Taiwan. They are administered by Japan, but Taiwan and China also claim sovereignty over them.
Led by Chen Miau Tak (陳妙德), chairman of the Hong Kong Diaoyutai Islets Protection Task Force, the group of seven from Hong Kong and Macau arrived in Taiwan on Friday following the arrest of a captain of a Chinese fishing boat by the Japanese coast guard after a collision with a patrol boat in the disputed area.
The incident coincided with Japan’s seizure of two Taiwanese boats for allegedly fishing illegally in the disputed area. Both were later released after paying a fine.
Later yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press statement reaffirming the government’s position on the Diaoyutais, saying they are part of the country’s “inherent territory” and fall within its “sovereign jurisdiction.”
Saying the protest was “spontaneously initiated by civil associations,” the ministry said it had asked the Japanese government not to interfere with the trip and to keep everything in perspective to uphold the mutual interests and long-term friendship of the two countries.
‘CROCODILE TEARS’: The Taiwan Statebuilding Party said the Kaohsiung mayor was only apologizing after a poll revealed that 45% of the city’s residents favored a recall Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) at a city council session yesterday apologized for taking three months off last year to campaign for January’s presidential election. Han said that he was now prioritizing municipal affairs and was focused primarily on preventing the spread of COVID-19. He was “doing two days’ work each day” to make up for time lost, he said. Han on May 5 attended a city council session for the first time in 201 days, giving a report on pandemic response measures. At yesterday’s session, Han said the Kaohsiung City Government would be injecting NT$50 million (US$1.67 million) into the
Taipei City Councilor Wu Pei-yi (吳沛憶) on Saturday urged the Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs to designate the Japanese colonial-era Showa Building (昭和樓) a cultural heritage site to protect it from being demolished. Wu made the remarks after the department on Tuesday last week visited the building to evaluate it for preservation, a standard procedure before a public building that is more than 50 years old is razed. The Showa Building, on Zhongxiao E Road Sec 2, was a rare kind of office building when it was constructed in 1942, Wu said. The three-story building was built with reinforced concrete and has European-style
A proposal by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to permanently ban sitting in Taipei Railway Station’s main hall has received a mixed reaction online, with some social media users vowing to launch a sit-in at the station. Gatherings at the hall have been prohibited since Feb. 29 in accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s policy of reducing crowd sizes in public places. A Facebook user organizing the sit-in said that the hall is a public space and there is no legitimate reason to ban sitting on the floor. He said he suspected that the proposal was made due to business considerations and
Chinese over-the-top (OTT) service provider iQiyi cannot register as a provider in Taiwan after the Mainland Affairs Council declared it to be an illegal service, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday. Both iQiyi and WeTV were deemed to be illegal Chinese OTT operators in an interdepartmental meeting on Friday last week, officials said, adding that this prohibits them from marketing their services in Taiwan or seeking subscribers. The government plans to block a local server that iQiyi has been using to transmit content to domestic audiences, which would disrupt its content transmission. OTT Entertainment Ltd, which is enlisted by iQiyi to