News / Asia

Anti-Japan Demonstrations Prompt Chinese Discussions of Protests, Patriotism

Anti-Japan protesters burn Japanese flags outside the Japanese Consulate General in Hong Kong, September 16, 2012.
Anti-Japan protesters burn Japanese flags outside the Japanese Consulate General in Hong Kong, September 16, 2012.
VOA News
As anti-Japanese protests spread in China and in some cases turn violent, Chinese Web users are questioning when the actions of protesters go too far.

Although protests in Beijing were mostly peaceful, some carried extreme messages.
“Even if all China becomes a grave, we must kill every Japanese,” read a banner at the front of a group of marching protesters near the Japanese embassy on Sunday.

In other cities, demonstrations took a violent turn. In the Southern city of Guangzhou rioters forced their way into a hotel attached to the Japanese consulate, smashing windows and hanging banners. In other cities, Japanese goods including cars and cell-phones were damaged and burned in public displays of anger.

The Chinese government has publicly condemned such violence, but otherwise showed tolerance towards the demonstrations.

On Monday, a commentary on the front page of the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, acknowledged that China had been provoked by Japan, and thus people’s anger was “irrepressible.”

“These patriotic feelings are precious, and they must be cherished and protected,” the article read, but it also warned against inappropriate forms of protests. “A civilized attitude abiding by rule of law should be the basic conduct of the citizenry.”

The op-ed echoed calls for calm by other news outlets. State news agency Xinhua said that Chinese indignation over Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands was “a reasonable move and a natural reaction,” but advised people to be wise in the expression of their patriotism.

  • Workers at a Japanese restaurant cover up the shop front with Chinese national flags and red clothes ahead of major protests expected on Tuesday in Beijing, China, September 17, 2012.
  • Chinese protesters with the words "Boycott Japanese goods" on their shirts march towards the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, China, September 16, 2012.
  • A paramilitary policeman guards an entrance of the Japanese Embassy, eggs and paint splattered on its wall, in Beijing, China, September 16, 2012.
  • Chinese protesters march with a national flag and a portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong near the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, China, September 16, 2012.
  • Anti-Japan protesters hold portraits of the late Communist leader Mao Zedong as they march outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, China, September 16, 2012.
  • Anti-Japan protesters throws water bottles towards the Japanese Embassy during a protest in Beijing, China, September 16, 2012.
  • Chinese protesters are stopped near the Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai, China, September 16, 2012.

On Weibo, China’s most widely used micro blog service, many users shared their views on patriotism on Monday.

A young Japanese citizen living in China reported on his Weibo account that he had just been charged by a group of Chinese people, while he was helping victims of the recent earthquake in China’s Guizhou province. “I am not physically hurt, but I am broken hearted,” he wrote.

“Let’s be reasonable patriots,” a Weibo user from Liaoning province wrote in response. “Not all Japanese people are right wing extremists, patriotic sentiments can spread at times but real patriotism is not expressed by beating Japanese people,” he added.

Lian Yue, a freelance writer and columnist posted a message on his micro blog account challenging the idea of reasonable patriotism. “Patriotism itself means conducting unreasonable actions,” he wrote. “If the dam burst, there is no survivor left,” he added.

Fei Fei, a 27 years old Chinese employee in a Beijing-based Japanese firm, says that she agrees with what protesters stand for, and thinks of them as patriotic, but adds her reservations when it comes to violent acts against Japanese people or businesses.

“Violence is never a good way to solve things,” she says and adds that it should be up to the two countries’ governments to set up dialogue and resolve the issue. “You cannot have citizens struggle on these very weird political situations,” she says.  

​Japan said that it decided to buy the contested territory to deflect further tensions, after Tokyo’s right wing governor Shintaro Ishihara had announced his interest in purchasing the islets. But in China, the move was perceived to have broken an unspoken understanding that both countries would not take overt measures to demonstrate their claims over the Diaoyu Islands, Senkaku in Japanese.

The Chinese government, which faces an unusually uncertain political transition in October and has been dealing with less than ideal economic figures in recent months, is wary of protests spinning out of control.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs