China's new belligerence

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Posted by Sarah Feld on 07:31:30 2005/04/16

In the last year we have seen China threaten Taiwan with war and aim guns at the small island. The Chinese government says it is not organizing these massive violent protests against Japan but what would happen if these demonstrations were supporting Tibet or Taiwan? The Chinese gestapo manage to crush any signs of protest from peaceful Falun Gong and killed thousands of students in Tianammen Square but these giant racist rallies are somehow able to continue mostly unmolested by the authorities. This is all about keeping Japan off as a permanent member of the security council. Japan and India should lead the way in ringing the U.N.'s death knell and create an organisation where a test of democracy must be passed before joining.

16/04/2005 11:10

By Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Shouting "Japanese invaders must die", thousands protested against Japan's wartime past in eastern China on Saturday, hurling rocks and bottles and burning Japanese flags at Tokyo's consulate in Shanghai.

But with thousands of paramilitary police on the streets of Beijing and students warned against protests, authorities headed off a repeat of last weekend's violent demonstrations in the capital, which hosts Japan's foreign minister on Sunday.

Police also barred incidents in southern Guangzhou and southwestern Chongqing, where thousands marched last weekend.

Chinese are protesting against textbooks they see as whitewashing Japan's wartime past and against Tokyo's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, among other disputes.

In the third weekend of violent protests against Japan across China, thousands marched on the Japanese consulate in Shanghai, smashing windows with rocks and pelting it with paint bombs and attacking Japanese restaurants along the way.

Some held posters carrying messages such as "Face Up to History". Another warned: "The anti-Japan war is not over yet".

Protesters overturned a Japanese car, leaving it scratched and "Boycott Japan" scrawled on its side.

Hundreds of paramilitary police in full riot gear stood ready as police appealed for order on loud hailers. Isolated scuffles broke out and about a dozen protesters were dragged away.

During moments of relative calm, protesters and police alike were spotted buying lattes at a nearby coffee shop. The demonstration broke up in the early evening.

Japan's foreign ministry lodged a protest, saying the Chinese government failed to protect Japan's diplomatic and commercial facilities from damage by the protesters and urging Beijing to take severe and serious efforts to prevent a recurrence.

"This sort of incident seems to have been repeated every week since the beginning of the month. Whatever the reason for this violent and destructive behaviour, we will not accept it, but strongly criticise it," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In the eastern city of Hangzhou, 10,000 protesters chanted anti-Japanese slogans and handed out fliers calling for a boycott of Japanese goods, witnesses said. Journalists were told not to report on it and warned they would be sacked if they took part.

Shopkeepers covered up billboards featuring Japanese electronics goods in Hangzhou and restaurant signs in Beijing. Another 2,000 people marched in Tianjin city, near the capital.


In Beijing, hundreds of police in riot gear secured the ambassador's home in the northeast diplomatic district and the embassy in the southeast. Both were hit by rocks and bottles by thousands of protesters last weekend but spared this time around.

China appeared keen to keep the capital quiet.

Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura is due to meet his counterpart Li Zhaoxing on Sunday, and aims to ensure disputes -- on everything from gas exploration in disputed waters to Japan's history -- do not hurt $178 billion (94 billion pounds) in annual trade between the economic powers.

Japan has pledged not to let the series of disputes hinder their broader relationship. Even so, Machimura noted security in Shanghai was inadequate and he would share his views with Li.

Chinese fume at what they see as Japan's failure to own up to atrocities committed during its occupation of China from 1931 to 1945. Beijing estimated that up to 35 million Chinese were killed or wounded by invading Japanese troops.

A Japanese encyclopaedia says "untold" civilians and about 1.3 million Chinese soldiers died in the war.

Anger flared after Tokyo's approval this month of a history textbook written by Japanese nationalist scholars that many in Asia say glosses over Japan's wartime past.

Tensions edged up another notch on Wednesday when Japan announced it had begun procedures to allocate rights for test-drilling in a disputed area of the East China Sea.

China has come under fire for tacitly encouraging the unrest, which started in Guangdong and Sichuan provinces early this month, spread to Beijing last week and, now, to nearby Tianjin, and to Shanghai and Hangzhou on the east coast.

Beijing denies it deliberately allowed things to spiral and pledged to protect Japanese businesses and nationals in China.

"I have to point out here that such allegations are totally groundless and a serious distortion of truth," State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan, a former foreign minister, said.

Describing relations as being at a "crossroads", Tang blamed the tensions on repeated visits by Japanese leaders, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, to the Yasukuni shrine -- where convicted war criminals are honoured along with Japan's war dead.

Authorities appeared to be clamping down harder in Beijing to keep the capital peaceful ahead of Machimura's visit. University students were warned by email not to protest.

Top anti-Japanese activists in Beijing were rounded up to prevent protests, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported.

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