Overseas Chinese 'defend' islands

Issue 

Overseas Chinese 'defend' islands

By Eva Cheng

A handful of right-wingers led by Japanese legislator Shingo Nishimura made a provocative landing on May 6 on an islet of Diaoyu Islands (or what the Japanese called Senkaku Islands), the archipelago between Taiwan and Okinawa whose ownership has long been in dispute between China and Japan.

Within hours of the news, a dozen protesters from the Hong Kong-based Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands staged a protest at the Japanese consulate, announcing a plan for a new protest voyage by about 180 protesters from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the US to the islands on May 18.

Tokyo threatened that it would repel any protesters, although it had done nothing to stop Nishimura's or other landings by Japanese parties.

On May 7, protests took place in Hong Kong and Taiwan. About 10 Hong Kong protesters went to China's de facto embassy — the New China News Agency — demanding Beijing take strong action to reclaim the islands.

A dozen protesters from the Taiwan Diaoyu Islands Defence Action Committee stormed into Japan's de facto embassy, the Japan Interchange Association, hurling eggs and burning Japanese flags.

Beijing gave warning to Tokyo the previous day, expressing "strong indignation", while Taipei expressed "grave concern". But neither government has put stronger demands or pressure despite the repeated attempts by Japanese groups to assert ownership of the islands.

The May 6 action was the second landing on the islands in 10 days and one in a long list of similar provocations over the years. Landings last September led to protests of 40,000 in Hong Kong, 20,000 in Macau and thousands in US cities among participants of predominantly Chinese origins.

The movement among Chinese outside China in defence of Diaoyu started in the early 1970s. It was driven primarily by nationalist sentiments but has, nevertheless, led to the radicalisation of generations of overseas Chinese.

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