Japan urged to refrain

Updated: 2012-08-15 14:12

(China Daily/Xinhua)

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BEIJING - China has asked Japan to refrain from taking any action that could endanger the safety of the lives and property of Chinese citizens going to the Diaoyu Islands, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a press statement Wednesday.

It has been reported that the Hong Kong-based Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands sent a vessel to the Diaoyu Islands on Wednesday.

"China is paying close attention to the developments of relevant issues, and it has expressed its serious concerns over the issues to the Japanese side," Qin said in the statement issued in response to a media request to comment on the report. He said China's position on the Diaoyu Islands issue remains "clear and resolute."

Japan's troubled Noda administration is facing several political headaches on Wednesday, as tensions rise in the East China Sea and the historically sensitive anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender stirs tensions.

A vessel carrying 14 activists seeking to assert Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, left Hong Kong on Sunday and entered waters off Taiwan on Tuesday.

The vessel is scheduled to replenish supplies in Taiwan and arrive at waters off the Diaoyu Islands on Wednesday.

Awaiting them will be Japan's Coast Guard, which Japan's Fuji TV said is prepared for the potential confrontation.

Japan's Sankei Shimbun reported on Monday that Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force will send warships if the Coast Guard fails to stop the Hong Kong activists from stepping on the islands.

Li Yiqiang, secretary-general of World Chinese Alliance in Defense of the Diaoyu Islands, told media that the crew of the Hong Kong ship is unlikely to step on the islands given the presence of Japan's Coast Guard.

"But we'll confront them in the waters ... and (to assert sovereignty) we will have a five-star red flag, a very large flag, on the ship," he said, referring to China's national flag.

Tensions have flared between Beijing and Tokyo since outspoken right-wing Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara in April released his plan to "purchase" the islands.