Chinese officials boarded a Greenpeace vessel protesting China's nuclear test program and escorted it out of Shanghai waters Wednesday.
The MV Greenpeace had traveled from Manila to Shanghai to highlight the environmental group's contention that China's nuclear tests are one of the biggest obstacles to concluding a test-ban treaty this year. Treaty negotiations are going on in Geneva.Damon Moglen, a Greenpeace spokesman in Hong Kong, said about 70 uniformed officials boarded the flagship vessel after Shanghai port authorities ordered the ship to leave Chinese territorial waters.
They also ordered the crew not to use the ship's communications, cutting its outside radio, telephone and satellite links for nearly three hours, he said.
The MV Greenpeace left Chinese waters escorted by two Chinese navy ships and was bound tonight for Hong Kong, Moglen said.
"The Chinese acted in a very firm and forceful way, but also in a very controlled way," he said, adding that no crew or equipment was damaged.
The ship had anchored at the mouth of the Yangtze River and was waiting for a pilot to guide it through treacherous currents and heavy traffic into Shanghai's harbor when about 40 port and marine officials first boarded it from four boats, said Moglen.
Despite warnings, authorities did not prevent the ship from entering Chinese waters but a pilot to take the ship into the harbor never appeared.