Taiwanese, Japanese ships confront near Diaoyu Islands

TAIPEI, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- The fishing vessel of a group of activists from Taiwan was obstructed on Thursday by Japanese coast guard ships in the waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands, but failed to make a landing.

Named "Happy Family" and protected by four coast guard ships of Taiwan, the fishing vessel departed from Taiwan's New Taipei City early Thursday morning, Wang Chung-yi, deputy chief of Taiwan's coast guard authority, said at a press briefing Thursday afternoon.

The vessel confronted eight Japanese coast guard ships in the waters about 28 nautical miles southwest of the Diaoyu Islands at about 9:40 a.m. (Beijing Time), according to Wang.

Japanese ships obstructed the vessel by making waves and emitting black smoke, and later spraying water toward it. Taiwan's coast guard ships responded with water spray, LED signals and used an audio amplifier warning the Japanese from obstructing the navigation of the vessel.

All the ships arrived at the waters about 17 nautical miles southwest of the Diaoyu Islands, and the fishing vessel began to return. Taiwan's coast guard authority estimated that it would arrive in New Taipei at 7 p.m.

Taiwan will firmly safeguard the interests and rights of ships fishing around the waters of the Diaoyu Islands, and protect vessels no matter where they are, Wang said.

The fishing vessel has seven people onboard, including several well-known non-governmental activists, one captain and an Indonesian worker.

The activists planned to declare sovereignty over the island, and take onto it a statue of Matsu, the Chinese indigenous goddess of the sea protecting fishermen and sailors.


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