Chinese balloonist lands in midst of isle dispute with Japan

By REUTERS
January 2, 2014 11:30

A Chinese man landed himself, literally, in the midst of a territorial dispute between Asia's two great powers, crash-landing a hot air balloon near contested islands held by Japan.

The Japanese coastguard said on Thursday it had rescued the balloonist, identified as 35-year-old-chef Xu Shuaijun, on Wednesday in the sea near the tiny isles, called the Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China.




The man's attempt to land his multicoloured balloon on the rocky outcrops looks unlikely to have big repercussions for the two countries, as a coastguard spokesman said Japan handed him over to a Chinese patrol vessel on Wednesday evening and Japan's coastguard was operating as normal.




Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang described the man as a "balloon enthusiast", and confirmed he had been handed over to a Chinese vessel upon being rescued and was in good health. He declined further comment.




Xu's adventure comes amid high tension over the disputed territory between the world's second- and third-biggest economies.



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