A number of Taiwanese boats entered the waters around the disputed Diaoyu Islands on Tuesday, according to the Japanese Coast Guard, just a day after two Chinese surveillance ships arrived on their own “rights defense” patrol. From AFP:
“Tens of fishing boats entered the waters. They were accompanied by six Taiwanese coastguard ships,” a coastguards spokesman said.
The boats are part of a fleet that left Taiwan on Monday vowing to stake their claim to islands where they say they have ancestral fishing rights.
Their arrival and large-scale breach of what Japan considers its territorial waters will further complicate an already high-stakes confrontation pitting Tokyo against Beijing.
China’s state-run Global Times is reporting that the Taiwanese contingent consists of nearly 100 vessels, mostly fishing boats:
A total of 75 fishing boats from Taiwan sailed to the Diaoyu Islands on Monday afternoon from a port in the island’s northeastern county of Yilan.
They were later joined on the sea by fishing boats from other parts of Taiwan, which raised the total number to around 100.
According to organizers, the boats will try to sail around the Diaoyu Islands in a move to protect the fishing rights in nearby waters and to protest against Japan’s illegal “purchase” of the Diaoyu Islands.
In a press briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei also pressed “compatriots” across the Taiwan Strait to work together to protect China’s territorial sovereignty.
Updated at 00:25 PST: Following a brief water-cannon skirmish (via Mark MacKinnon), the ships had left Japanese waters by noon on Tuesday, according to the Japanese Coast Guard.
Updated 9:10 am PST: The New York Times Lede blog posts video coverage of the confrontation between Taiwanese and Japanese ships from Japan’s NHK:
And from China’s Dragon TV: