AROUND 1,000 fishing boats have been mobilised by China to sail to an island chain controlled by Japan, as the quarrel between the two countries resulted in a number of Japanese businesses suspending their Chinese operations.
Chinese fishing boats, which appear suspiciously well-drilled and organised, have clashed with the Japanese coastguard over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands in the past, but never in such numbers.
They were expected to arrive last night, according to the state-run China News Service, and may also be joined by six Chinese maritime patrol ships, which briefly entered Japanese waters last Friday in a show of defiance.
The dispute over the islands, which has been rumbling for decades, intensified last week after Japan announced it had bought some of the archipelago for the nation from a private Japanese family.
That enraged China, which also claims sovereignty over the chain. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of Chinese protested in more than 50 cities, overturning Japanese cars and burning the Japanese flag.
Yesterday, protests continued in Beijing, but were significantly smaller. However, a number of Japanese businesses have suspended their China operations. Panasonic, Canon, Honda, Mazda and Toyota have halted their factories, while almost 200 "7-11" convenience stores have shut and Uniqlo, the clothes retailer, has removed the signs from its shop and shut its doors. (© Daily Telegraph, London)