After flag-raising on island, 14 Chinese held in Japan

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HONG KONG. August 17. KAZINFORM A diplomatic row has erupted between Japan and China after a group of Chinese nationals were photographed raising flags on a disputed island in the East China Sea before being arrested, the latest incident in rising territorial tensions in North Asia, according to CNN.

Japanese authorities on Wednesday arrested 14 Chinese activists at the disputed islands.

"We will deal with the issue sternly based on the law," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters Wednesday night, as Japan's foreign ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest strongly what it called an illegal landing.

In a press conference, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said, "Senkaku Islands are our sovereign territory historically and in the international law. We are controlling the islands effectively." He said the activists were given repeated warnings and that their landing was "very regrettable."

China says it has sovereignty over the East China Sea islands, which it calls Diaoyu, and has urged Japan to immediately release the detained citizens.

On Wednesday Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying summoned the Japanese ambassador and phoned her Japanese counterpart to "lodge solemn representation over Japan's illegal arrest," according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

In Hong Kong, Chief Executive C.Y. Leung summoned Japanese Consul-General Yuji Kumamaru, expressing similar "extreme" concern. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China.

Five of the men who landed on the islands were taken into custody by Okinawa police, while the nine others on the vessel were detained by the Japan Coast Guard.

Six are from Hong Kong, including former Legislative Council member "Bull" Tsang Kin-shing, according to the Hong Kong Immigration Department, which on Thursday sent two officers to Okinawa, Japan, where the group is being detained. Leading the activists is the Hong Kong-based Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands.

In addition to Tsang, the group included a labor union chairman, a teacher, two TV journalists and seven crew members, according to lists provided by the police and coast guard. The Hong Kong-registered vessel was detained and the men charged with violating the immigration control and refugee recognition act, according to Japanese and Hong Kong authorities.

According to the Hong Kong group's Twitter account, they planned to demolish the Japanese lighthouse on the island, sing the national anthem and set up a television and radio to receive Chinese broadcasts.

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