Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Ship’s captain pulls plug on Diaoyutai activists’ trip

NO DICE:Taiwanese activists blamed the government for the refusal to rent them a boat, and the coast guard denied requests by the Chinese to anchor in Taiwan

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Hu Chien-sen  /  Staff reporters

A Coast Guard Administration vessel off the coast of Greater Taichung yesterday draws up alongside a Hong Kong-based vessel headed for the disputed Diaoyutai Islands.

Photo: CNA

Taiwanese activists were yesterday forced to cancel the plan they initiated with Hong Kong activists to assert Chinese ownership over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), allegedly due to government intervention.

Chinese Association for Protecting the Diaoyutais chairman Hsieh Mang-lin (謝夢麟) called off the plan at 2:10pm after failing to rent the Ta-fa 268, a recreational fishing boat, from Yu Kuo-chao (游國照), the Coast Guard Administration said.

Yin Pi-hsiung (殷必雄), a member of the association, lashed out at the government, which he said thwarted their plan.

At about 1pm, Yin and some other activists were busy loading food supplies onboard the Ta-fa 268 at Gengfang Fishing Harbor in Toucheng Township (頭城), Yilan County, to prepare for departure as planned to rendezvous with the Chinese activists near Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼) off Taiwan’s northernmost tip.

With the ship flying the association’s flag and the national flag of the Republic of China, Yin was furious when Yu told him that the flags had to be taken down.

Yin claimed that Yu reneged on the deal to rent out the boat after coming under pressure from the government.

The plan was for Yu to take the activists to Pengjia Islet to provide the Chinese activists with food supplies after he declined to sail the vessel to the Diaoyutais, as the activists had initially requested.

Yin said they had been repeatedly turned down by boat owners before they did the deal with Yu.

Coast Guard Administration Deputy Director-General Wang Chung-yi (王崇儀) said Yin’s allegation were “groundless,” adding that Yu made the decision to cancel the trip of his own accord.

Wang said the administration had denied requests by the Chinese activists for their ship, the Bao Diao II, to make anchor in Makung Harbor, in Penghu County, and Taichung Harbor, Greater Taichung, “to avoid the perception” that Taiwan was teaming up with China to defend the sovereignty of the Diaoyutais.

The Hong Kong activists, led by Hong Kong-based Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands chairman Chan Miu Tak (陳妙德), four crewmembers and two journalists from Phoenix Hong Kong Channel were on a ship flying the Chinese national flag.

Wang said the denial of their requests to replenish their food supplies was in accordance with Article 24 of the Act Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau (香港澳門條例), because had permission been granted, it could have endangered national security and caused a disturbance in the public order.

The activists had planned the action in response to a plan by 50 Japanese lawmakers to visit the Diaoyutais on Sunday. Media reports on Monday said the Japanese government put a stop to the visit.

Meanwhile, in response to the activists move to defend the sovereignty of the Diaoyutais, Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) yesterday said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said last month that the government would not relinquish the Republic of China’s sovereignty of the islands.

“President Ma has been defending the nation’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutais since taking office and no one should doubt the government’s determination. The government will declare our sovereignty over the Diaoyutais in a feasible and effective way,” he said.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

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