Violent Anti-Japanese Protests Held in China
Several weeks ago, I posted about Japanese nationalists holding a rally in Shibuya to denounce the Japanese government’s weak response to “Chinese aggression” over the Senkaku islands. On that day, lines of Japanese protesters marched down streets in an orderly fashion, making noise and saying nasty things about China, but not really doing much else. The organizers of the event claimed that over 2,500 people attended – not a very big number for a city like Tokyo. Police were on hand to make sure nothing got out of hand, and apparently no serious incidents took place.
The event was pretty much ignored by the Japanese media, but the international press wrote articles about it. I’m not sure if the Chinese media reported much about the Tokyo protest, but I have heard about a great number of Chinese netizens forwarding e-mails with alarming messages about there being “large-scale” anti-China demonstrations in Japan. A series of provocative photographs, almost none of which were taken at the October 2nd protest rally, were attached to the e-mails as proof of the anti-Chinese fever that was sweeping Japan.
Word got out that Japanese nationalists were planning another “big” rally in front of the Chinese embassy on October 16th. Chinese netizens responded by planning their own anti-Japan protests, which took place in several cities. Thousands of angry young Chinese took to the streets – the potest in Xi’an is said to have involved an estimated 7,000 university students. The protests were much bigger than anti-China rallies that took place in Japan, and they were much more violent:
Photos from the southwestern city of Chengdu and the central city of Zhengzhou showed hundreds of people marching with banners and signs protesting Japan’s claim on the island chain, called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan.
Japanese retailers Ito-Yokado and Isetan said protesters in Chengdu broke windows and showcases in their stores, the Kyodo News agency reported.
China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said more than 2,000 people protested in Chengdu while thousands of college students gathered in the northern city of Xian. The report was in English only. The protests were not reported in Chinese-language state media, and many comments and photos were quickly removed from mainland Web sites.
Protests in China are often quickly shut down or heavily controlled. It was not clear whether the organizers had permission to demonstrate Saturday.
Japanese restaurants also had their windows smashed. This morning, Chinese police officers filled the streets near the Ito-Yokado that was attacked during yesterday’s protests. (Oddly enough, despite days of advance notice, there weren’t enough police on the streets yesterday to prevent windows from being smashed. ) Over at Global Voices, you can check out some photos of the protests and tweets about how the nationalistic mob wrecked stores.
It looks like this has been a victory….for Japan’s right-wingers. I’m sure that General Tamogami is overjoyed at the lovely present that the Chinese protesters have delivered. Few people in Japan paid attention to Tamogami’s October 2nd protest event, but now some of the Japanese media outlets that intentionally ignored it have been forced to report about its existence. The right-wingers had been saying that China should be distrusted and feared, and the images of angry mobs and shattered windows have sent that message far better than any sound truck speech or protest flier.
Update: Apparently there was another anti-Japanese demonstration on October 17th. Here is a Japanese news report about it, showing a crowd looting a Japanese sports goods store and wrecking a Japanese automobile:
More demonstrations against Japan erupted in China on Sunday as protesters vandalized a restaurant and cars in Sichuan Province in defiance of implicit government calls for restraint.
Radio and Television Hong Kong said protesters in the city of Mianyang ignored government pressure and clashed with police. They also stoned a Japanese restaurant and shattered the windows of Japanese cars, the broadcaster said.
A local car dealer for Honda Motor Co. said some of its customers’ cars were damaged by the protesters.
As the violent acts escalated, local police reportedly lost control of the demonstrators.
The Japanese Consulate in Chengdu said the only Japanese citizen registered as living in Mianyang was unharmed by the protests and that it was unaware of any tourists in the city.
On Saturday, crowds estimated at over 10,000 people took to the streets in at least three cities to protest Japan’s control of the disputed Senkaku Islands, which are known in China as the Diaoyu Islands.
Update 2: Here are a few more photographs, lifted from Japanese forum posts about the China protests (if any of these don’t actually show the October 16th or 17th protests, let me know):