Since a platform supply ship made a protest trip to an area near the disputed Diaoyutai Islands on Friday, many fishing boats based in northern Taiwan have been planning to do likewise next week to ramp up Taiwan's claim to the island chain, according to media reports.
In anticipation of the fishermen's planned protest, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) convened a meeting in the northeastern coastal township of Suao Friday to obtain firsthand information about the plan and devise a strategy to better protect the fishermen's safety, the reports said.
It has also been reported that China and Japan have taken new steps to reinforce their respective sovereignty claims over the Diaoyutais amid the latest flare-up of tensions over the territorial issue.
For instance, China on Friday released a list of standardized names for geographic features on the uninhabited island chain in the East China Sea, which has been under Japan's administration since 1972.
Meanwhile, Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force conducted a joint drill with the U.S. Marine Corps on Saturday on the western Pacific island of Guam in a bid to strengthen their capability to defend the remote islands from foreign assault, media reports said.
The following are excerpts from the local media coverage of the latest developments in the Diaoyutai territorial dispute:
Coast guard officials said they met with senior executives of the Suao Fishermen's Association in the northeastern county of Yilan on Friday to gain a better understanding of their Diaoyutai protest plan.
The CGA officials said fishing boats from Suao and other northern Taiwan fishing ports are likely to make a protest voyage to the contested Diaoyutai area between Sept. 25 and Sept. 27.
Besides asserting Taiwan's claim, the protest is also aimed at protecting local fishermen's legitimate right to operate in waters near the Diaoyutais, which have been traditionally Taiwan's fishing grounds, the Suao Fishermen's Association said.
They said the association has received about NT$6 million (US$203,389.8) in private donations to help defray fuel costs.
"The amount far exceeded our fundraising target," said an association spokesman. "We are encouraged by the public's support of our cause."
CGA officials said they will offer full protection to Taiwanese fishing boats protesting near the Diaoyutais, based on the precepts of "no confidence and no evasion."
Amid escalating tensions over the territorial dispute, China and Japan have begun military preparations.
A Beijing-based correspondent of the Japanese daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported earlier this week that Japan's Ministry of Defense has drawn up a contingency plan to deal with any possible conflict over the Diaoyutais, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan.
Meanwhile, an article posted on Russia's defense and aerospace website said China has deployed the new DF-21C ballistic missiles in Fujian Province -- the Chinese territory closest to the Diaoyutais, which Beijing calls the Diaoyu Islands.
It marks the first time that this new type of missile, which has a range of 3,200 kilometers, has been deployed in southeastern China, the article said.
Mainland Chinese military experts were quoted as saying that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been conducting large-scale military drills in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea in recent months.
The exercises focused on flexible and remote attack strategies and long haul transportation tactics, an indication that the PLA is preparing to seize the islands, according to the Russian website. (Sept. 22, 2012).
United Evening News:
Japan's Kyodo news agency said Saturday that media organizations were invited to observe a joint U.S.-Japan military drill in Guam earlier in the day.
The training exercise was conducted amid mounting tensions between Japan and China over the Diaoyutais, the report said.
In the drill, which simulated regaining control of an island captured by foreign forces, Japanese and U.S. troops were seen disembarking from small boats to land on the northern shore of Guam. After landing, the Japanese troops advanced with rifles to "retake" the island, the report said.
On Friday, China's State Oceanic Administration and Ministry of Civil Affairs jointly released a list of standardized names for the geographic features on Diaoyu, the largest island in the disputed chain, and some of the other isles.
The list gives the Chinese-language names and locations of various mountains, creeks, capes and other geographic features on the islands.
The move represented China's latest efforts to strengthen its sovereignty claim to the Diaoyutais, local political analysts said. (Sept. 22, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)