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Backgrounder: History proves Diaoyu Islands are China's territory

(Xinhua)

13:27, August 17, 2012

BEIJING, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government on Friday decided to release the 14 Chinese illegally detained Wednesday by Japanese authorities at the Diaoyu Islands after the Chinese government repeatedly demanded their "immediate and unconditional" release.

The 14 Chinese, despite obstruction by Japan Coast Guard patrol ships, arrived at the Diaoyu Islands by a Hong Kong fishing vessel to assert China's territorial claim to the islands.

Japanese police arrested them on suspicion of "illegal entry."

After their detention, China's Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying reiterated China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and the affiliated islets, and demanded that the Japanese guarantee the safety of the citizens and free them immediately and unconditionally. On Thursday, China once again urged Japan to "immediately and unconditionally" release its nationals.

Demonstrators across China staged protests Thursday demanding the release of the 14 Chinese nationals.

The Diaoyu islands, in the East China Sea between China and Japan, have belonged to China since ancient times.

The islands are 120 nautical miles northeast of China's Taiwan province, 200 nautical miles west of China's mainland and 200 nautical miles east of Japan's southernmost island Okinawa.

Geologically the islands are attached to Taiwan. The waters around the islands are 100 to 150 meters deep and there is a 2,000-meter-deep oceanic trench between the islands and Japan's Okinawa islands.

Fishermen from China's Taiwan and Fujian and other provinces conducted activities such as fishing and collecting herbs in this area since ancient times.

The islands appeared on China's map since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
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