A Chinese cook takes a ride on a hot-air balloon in waters near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Photo: AP
A Chinese cook who crashed into the sea while trying to fly on a hot-air balloon to Diaoyu Islands has been rescued by Japan's Coast Guard.
Xu Shuaijun, 35, crashed Wednesday after hitting turbulence as he approached the islands, the Coast Guard said Thursday.
The Coast Guard received a missing-person report from Taiwanese officials, and a Coast Guard helicopter spotted Xu about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the islands, they said.
He was picked up by a boat and later handed over to a Chinese patrol ship, according to the Coast Guard. His life was not in danger, although other details were not available.
The island dispute has been the sore point in China-Japan relations since Japan illegally purchased part of the islands in 2012, which triggered nationwide protests in China.
A recent visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a Tokyo shrine that honors World War II war criminals has outraged China, adding to the bilateral tensions.