News / Asia

China's 'Hollywood' Stokes Anti-Japanese Sentiment

A Chinese woman drags a Japanese flag on the ground during a protest march in Beijing last September. The media plays a large role in stoking anti-Japanese sentiment.A Chinese woman drags a Japanese flag on the ground during a protest march in Beijing last September. The media plays a large role in stoking anti-Japanese sentiment.
A Chinese woman drags a Japanese flag on the ground during a protest march in Beijing last September. The media plays a large role in stoking anti-Japanese sentiment.
A Chinese woman drags a Japanese flag on the ground during a protest march in Beijing last September. The media plays a large role in stoking anti-Japanese sentiment.
In 2012, the Chinese film industry produced numerous movies and television dramas with anti-Japanese themes, many of them dealing with the two wars between the countries. The trend seems set to continue in 2013, with at least nine anti-Japan productions in progress.

According to a report in the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News, Hengdian World Studio, known as China’s Hollywood, produced between 40 and 50 such shows last year alone. The newspaper estimated the number of deaths of Japanese depicted in the dramas to be one billion over the course of the entire year.

The newspaper said the production quality of many of the productions is not sophisticated, and that some the action shown is so preposterous as to elicit laughter from the audience. In one drama, for example, Chinese are portrayed as having the power to cut Japanese in half with their bare hands.

But while the dramas may appear fantastical or even amateurish, they do serve a very real purpose.

According to Doug Young, a journalism professor at Fudan University in Shanghai and author of the new book The Party Line: How the Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China, fanning anti-Japanese sentiment can be very useful for the government in Beijing.

“It’s a convenient way to rally the Chinese around the flag and deflect attention away from scandals like Bo Xilai and corruption,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to make people proud to be Chinese.”

Young added that latent resentment toward Japan makes it easy to stir up the population.

“The Chinese government knows it’s there, and it uses that latent distrust to its advantage when it runs into issues with Japan like the Diaoyu Islands,” he said. “In the case of Japan, it’s a very deliberate effort by the [Chinese] Propaganda Department not to stop inflammatory discussions and maybe fan the flames. They let people break the laws and do things that would never be tolerated otherwise.” he said.

Last fall, after Japan nationalized the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, which are claimed by China, anti-Japanese sentiment erupted throughout China, with widespread looting and vandalism of Japanese businesses as well as calls to boycott Japanese products.

“Whenever you need a good bad guy in the United States, you can never go wrong bringing in a Nazi,” said Young. “It’s the same way in China. You can never go wrong vilifying the Japanese, and they take advantage of that fact.”

Additional reporting by Yi-Hua Lee of VOA's China Branch

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Comments page of 2
by: Shane
February 28, 2013 8:34 PM
It is true that many films are made of the era, but it is mainly because it has huge psychological effect and scars over the Chinese people. No matter how you paint it, 30 million dead in a war with over 20 million civilian deaths caused directly by the Japanaese military and their war crimes when China was at her weakest, and when the Japanese have always benefited from Chinese knowledge and learning over the past 2200 years (see the origins of Japanese langauge Kanji, their first history written by Chinese historians, their tea culture, their architecture, city planning etc) - save for one invasion of Japan under the Mongols.

The scars are elsewhere as well not only in China. Taiwan (Republic of China, or ROC) also has many of these series and movies about the anti-Japanese resistance (afterall, it is during their reign over China that such atrocities occured). Even in Singapore, malaysia and Indonesia, the elders would tell stories of the brutality of the Japanese, with the Sook Ching Massacre in Singapore of over 160 000 young Chinese in a 3 day period (even Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was amongst them but escaped with a twist of luck.). And let us not even forget the Korean brothers who have suffered immensely under the Japanese rule, with over tens of thousands of women forced to become sex slaves to the Japanese. The last Korean empress was raped and killed by the japanese, with subsequent massacres of Korean civilians (though to a lesser extent than in China)

But all this can be overlooked, but for the fact that the current ruling government denies these, insists on occupying lands stolen in their imperial conquests of 1895 and 1933-1945, and continues to worship and pay respects to war criminals housed in the Yasakuni shrine - it is equivalent to worshipping and paying respects to Adolf Hitler in front of the Jewish people. Germany has since apologised, recognised their faults and have moved forward with pride and responsiblity, whilst Japan has gone the other direction, towards denial and irresponsbility, having border conflicts with all of her neighbours - Russia, South Korea and China (People's Repbulic of China) and Taiwan (Republic of China).

There is good reason why the Republic of China (Taiwan) also claims the islands and the South China Sea - it is because they are the historical territories of China since the Ming and Qing Dynasties and the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China are both cultural and historical successors to such territories. It is also called the South China Sea and East China Sea for good reason - after their owners.

Just some background for those who do not have access to such info as a result of selective and poor reporting from the mainstream media.

by: Jack from: Asia
February 28, 2013 4:17 PM
China's "Hollywood" is owned and managed by the CCP. They determine what can/cannot be made. China is stoking the hostilies and it will regret it at some point. That point may unfortuanelty be when the shooting starts. China is conducting itself im a very irresponsible manner and needs to stop.
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