East China sea activists return

East China sea activists return

East China sea activists return

Updated 23 August 2012, 23:09 AEST

China has welcomed home a group of activists who landed on a disputed island in the East China sea.

The group was arrested and deported by Japan as tension escalates over ownership of the area.

The islands are surrounded by rich fishing waters and potentially large natural gas deposits.

They are administered by Japan but they're also claimed by China and Taiwan.

The activists' ship, the Kai Fung 2, docked in Hong Kong after a provocative trip to the islands, known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China.

One mainland Chinese tourist from southern Guangdong province welcomed the activists' actions, saying they were brave and were defending China's land.

The captain of the ship, Yeung Hong, thanked supporters in Hong Kong.

"Firstly, I would like to say thank you to everybody, thank you to all citizens and media for your concern for our safety," he said. "In the past five nights and four days, you kept paying attention to our safety and our route."

He believed the Chinese government had not done enough to support Beijing's claim to the islands.

Last week, six of the activists clambered over the rocky shoreline with Chinese and Taiwanese flags and were met by Japanese riot police.

The group was arrested and quickly expelled from Japan.