Seven Chinese persons who were detained by Japan for landing on a disputed island in East China sea returned to a rousing welcome in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Hailing them as heroes, state media said the seven were part of a group of 14 who had made the "courageous" journey to reach Diaoyu islands (Senkaku in Japanese) and plant the Chinese national flag.
The much publicised welcome took place as Japanese forces joined U.S. Marines in the western Pacific Ocean for a month-long military drill aimed at tackling the scenario of taking back islands occupied by enemy troops.
"Though no country was named as the imaginary occupier, an official with the Japanese Ministry of Defense hinted that the war game is targeted at China, according to a report by Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun," state-run Xinhua said.
"The seven activists returned on the fishing boat Kai Fung Two, which took them on their courageous voyage. They were illegally detained by Japanese authorities after seven from their group made a successful landing on the Diaoyu Islands last Wednesday. Japan later released them after China expressed serious concerns over the incident," CCTV, national broadcaster, said in a programme.
The Chinese nationals were received by a large group of people and felicitated at the harbour.
Earlier, the state media had praised the effort of the group of people from Hong Kong to land on one of the Diaoyu islands. "To once again assert China's historically proven sovereignty over the islands, seven activists from Hong Kong landed on one of the islands earlier Wednesday. The effort - the first successful Chinese landing on the territory since 2004 - came despite Japanese patrol boats guarding the islands," Xinhua said.
Soon after the Chinese nationals landing on one of the disputed island, several Japanese nationalists spent the day on Diaoyu Islands. According to reports, at least 10 Japanese activists went ashore on the Diaoyu Islands.
"They're part of larger group of 150 people aboard 21 vessels, including lawmakers and members of right-wing groups," state media said in Beijing.
The landing of Japanese nationals on the island led to large-scale anti-Japanese protests across cities in China. Thousands took to the streets in Shenzhen, Guangzhou and a number of other cities demanding that Japan leave the islands in the East China Sea.
Reports said in some instances, demonstrators targeted attacked Japanese restaurants and vandalised Japanese-made cars.