Backgrounder: History proves Diaoyu Islands are China's territory
Video: China urges Japan to release fisherman immediately
|Chinese boat crew members get off the ship at the Ishigaki harbor to go to Ishigaki airport in Okinawa, Japan, Sept. 13, 2010. The 14 Chinese fishermen on board the trawler which had been kept by Japanese authorities at Ishigaki harbor in Okinawa since Tuesday's collision are on their way back to China. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)
By Ma Jie, Wang Xiaopeng
ISHIGAKI, Japan, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- The 14 Chinese fishermen, on board the trawler which had been kept off Ishigaki harbor in Okinawa since last Tuesday's collision with Japan Coast Guards ships, set off for home Monday morning, according to Xinhua reporters on the scene.
The chartered flight of Tianjin Airlines took off from Ishigaki Airport at 11:40 a.m., and will arrive at the airport of Fuzhou, capital of southeastern Fujian Province, the sources with Chinese embassy to Japan confirmed.
The crew members appeared healthy, and were escorted to two minivans after getting off from the boat. They were not granted a chance to talk to Xinhua and other reporters on the spot.
Chinese embassy officials were present at the airport apron to see the crew members off.
The trawler itself also set off on a journey for Fuzhou shortly after the plane took off, steered by a skipper arriving from China.
The original captain of the trawler, Zhan Qixiong, 41, has still been held by Japanese authorities for allegedly "obstructing public duties." A Japanese court ruled on Friday to detain him for 10 days until Sept. 19.
The collision between the Chinese trawler and two Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessels off the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea last Tuesday has developed into a diplomatic crisis between China and Japan. China has repeatedly demanded the release of the captain and its crew.
On Sunday morning, Japan Coast Guards towed the Chinese trawler into the sea near Ishigaki Island in Okinawa Prefecture to reenact the vessel's collision.
China is firmly opposed to any kind of investigation by Japanese authorities of the illegally-detained Chinese fishing trawler, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Sunday.
In a written statement, Jiang said Japan's so-called evidence- taking activities are illegal, invalid and conducted in vain, and China demands Japan stop activities that will lead to an escalation of the situation.
Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Sunday told Japan to make a "wise political resolution" and immediately release the Chinese fishermen and fishing boat.
Dai, who made the remarks when summoning Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa in the wee hours, was the highest-ranking Chinese official to make a response after the fishing boat and its crew were seized Tuesday.