A group of Chinese students staged a protest near the Japanese embassy in Seoul on Thursday to urge the Japanese government to halt its purchase of disputed islands at the center of an escalating territorial row between Beijing and Tokyo.
About 50 Chinese students studying in South Korea rallied to express their fury at Japan's decision to purchase disputed islands in the East China Sea known as Diaoyu in China. Scuffles broke out between South Korean police and the demonstrators as the students tried to march toward the Japanese embassy.
A heavy police presence outside the embassy prevented the protesters from approaching the embassy building, and that the students held their demonstration near the embassy. They strongly denounced Japan's action as "a clear violation of China's territorial sovereignty." The students chanted slogans such as "We can't accept the violation of our national territory" and " Withdraw the illegal purchase".
Wei Shuzie, president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association in Korea (CSSAK), read out a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. "Your government performed a show with the purchase of the Diaoyu islands," said Wei. "As a measure of nationalization, your government attempted to legalize the ownership of China's Diaoyu islands. If you respect history and truth, you should know that the Diaoyu islands have been Chinese territory since ancient times." He then tried to deliver the letter to the Japanese embassy but his efforts went in vain as police blocked access to the embassy.
Tensions have been growing for months between Asia's two biggest economies over the disputed islands. The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan and also claimed by China's Taiwan. China maintains it has sovereignty over the islands in the East China Sea, saying that they have historically been part of China.