Demonstrations grow over Diaoyu Islands

Updated: 2012-08-16 18:58


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BEIJING - Demonstrators across the country staged protests demanding the release of the 14 Chinese nationals who are being held by Japanese police after they went to the Diaoyu Islands.

Demonstrations grow over Diaoyu Islands

A protester yells slogans during a march in front of the Japanese consulate in Shanghai August 16, 2012.The protesters were demanding the release of detained activists after they landed on the Diaoyu Islands. [Photo/Agencies]

More than 100 citizens in Binzhou city, East China's Shandong province, joined in an anti-Japanese march on Thursday morning, waving banners with slogans such as "Safeguard our territory", "Boycott Japanese products", and "Defend Diaoyu Islands".

The demonstrations erupted a day after the Chinese government protested with Japan after illegally detaining the Chinese nationals from Hong Kong, who went to the islands on Wednesday.

Demonstrations, which started at around 10 am, dispersed by Thursday afternoon. Similar protests, though fewer in the numbers, occured in other cities across China, such as Beijing and Shanghai.

A group of six people arrived at the Japanese Embassy, in Beijing's Chaoyang District, at around 12:10 pm, waving national flags and chanting slogans in protest. "Free our compatriots", "Return our territory", "The Diaoyu Islands belong to China", they shouted.

Police persuaded the protestors to leave, but the group returned about 10 minutes later, chanting slogans such as, "Out of Diaoyu Islands" and "The Diaoyu Islands are part of China's territory" until police again persuaded them to leave.

On Thursday morning, two other citizens arrived at the embassy separately, holding placards that read: "Release those who defend the Diaoyu Islands immediately and unconditionally" and "Protest Japan's illegal detainment of Chinese warriors who defend the Diaoyu Islands."

In Shanghai, more than 20 people gathered in front of the Japanese general consulate, waving placards. The protestors dispersed after about an hour.

The 14 Chinese, despite obstruction by Japan Coast Guard patrol ships, arrived at Diaoyu Islands by a Hong Kong fishing vesselto assert China's territorial claim to the islands.

Japanese police arrested them on suspicion of "illegal entry".

After their detention, China's Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying reiterated China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and the affiliated islets, and demanded that the Japanese guarantee the safety of the citizens and free them immediately and unconditionally.

On Thursday, China once again urged Japan to "immediately and unconditionally" release its nationals. Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun made the request during a phone call with his Japanese counterpart Kenichiro Sasae. Zhang asked the Japanese to ensure the Chinese nationals' personal safety, dignity and fundamental rights.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he was monitoring developments involving the detained citizens, and he called on the Japanese government to ensure their safety.

Leung said officers from the city's Immigration Department would go to Tokyo to provide assistance to the citizens.

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