Beijing: Protest demonstrations were held in many cities across China demanding the release of 14 Chinese nationals detained by Japan when they attempted to land on disputed islands in the East China Sea.
The demonstrations, tacitly permitted by the government were held in Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao, besides several other cities.
A group of six people demonstrated before the Japanese embassy here waving national flags and chanting slogans in protest.
"Free our compatriots", "Return our territory", "The Diaoyu Islands belong to China", they shouted, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The islands are called `Diaoyu` by China and `Senkaku` by Japan.
Police persuaded the protestors to leave, but the group returned about 10 minutes later, chanting slogans such as, "Out of Diaoyu Islands" and "The Diaoyu Islands are part of China`s territory" until police again intervened.
In Shanghai, more than 20 people gathered in front of the Japanese general consulate, waving placards. The protestors dispersed after about an hour.
The Xinhua report said 14 Chinese from Hong Kong reached the uninhabited islands despite obstruction by Japan Coast Guard patrol ships, to assert China`s territorial claim.
Japanese police arrested them for "illegal entry" and they were expected to be deported back to Hong Kong soon.
After their detention, China protested to Japan over the arrests. Today Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun made the request during a phone call with his Japanese counterpart Kenichiro Sasae.
Zhang asked the Japanese to ensure the Chinese nationals` personal safety, dignity and fundamental rights.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong`s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying called on the Japanese government to ensure their safety.
Leung said officers from the city`s Immigration Department would go to Tokyo to provide assistance to the detained Chinese.