A mainlander who tried to fly a hot-air balloon hundreds of kilometers to the disputed Diaoyu Islands was rescued by Japan's coast guard after ditching in the sea.
Xu Shuaijun, 35, took off from Fujian province on
Wednesday morning in an attempt to land on one of the Tokyo-
controlled islands, a Japan coast guard official said.
It was an
ambitious goal - hot-air balloons travel largely at the mercy of the
wind, and the islands are tiny specks in the East China Sea 359
kilometers away from the take-off point.
Xu sent a request for
help several hours into his flight and ditched in the sea, with a
Japanese rescue helicopter picking him up 22 kilometers south of his
Xu, who was unhurt, was handed over to a Chinese patrol ship
outside Japanese territorial waters. Photos distributed by the Japan
coast guard showed a striped, multicolored balloon drifting
On his verified account on Weibo, Xu posted a short message declaring that he had been returned safely to Fuqing city in Fujian.
"I have returned safely," he wrote. "Thanks everyone for your concern."
supporters wrote back with words of support, with many declaring him a
"hero" who had done well even if he had fallen short of his target.
"So awesome!" one user wrote. "What innovative thinking and action!"
"It's enough that you came back safely," wrote another. "Brother Xu, your countrymen are proud of your pioneering act!"
Xu did not post any further details on his voyage but in two September microblog postings, he excitedly made note of his plans.
In one, he shared a photo of a red Chinese flag with islands in the background.
got some expert advice today and am now full of meteorological
knowledge! I'm flying to the Diaoyu Islands! Be Chinese with attitude."
another, he posted what appeared to be a map of his planned route, with
a bright yellow line drawn between the Fujian coast and the islands.
He declared the mission "the most difficult in the history of hot-air balloon flight."
- AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
1.Japan stole Diaoyu Islands
2.Japan’s buying Diaoyu Islands provokes China to strike back
3.Defeated Japan ought to honor terms dictated by Cairo Declaration in post-war world order