Analysts: Chinese Authorities Using Anti-Japan Protests
Over the weekend (August 19), anti-Japanese protests erupted in several cities across China. The protests were sparked by the dispute over the Senkaku, or Diaoyu Islands—an island chain claimed by both China and Japan.
Last week, Japan deported 14 Chinese activists who tried to land on one of the islands. On Sunday, right-wing Japanese activists attempted a similar landing.
Thousands of protestors in cities including Shenzhen, Shandong, and Chengdu called on a boycott of Japanese goods, burned Japanese flags, and damaged Japanese restaurants and vehicles.
Activist and artist He Guoquan says the protests were likely staged.
[He Guoquan, Artist]:
“The authorities ban mass protests in China. But now they allowed such demonstrations, and the police even cleared the route for the march. In China, police intervene in group activities, even if they have gathered to read poetry. So the anti-Japanese parades were very unusual..”
Analysts say that although the Chinese regime has made strong statements about the Diaoyu islands, it has done little about the issue. They say the Party is instead using nationalism to distract attention from domestic issues and the power struggle within the CCP.
Officials seem to be aware of inciting too much activism. The nationalistic state-run paper The Global Times ran an editorial calling for moderation. Discussions on the issue were censored on Weibo.
In Shandong, demonstrators clashed with police as the protest became increasingly violent. Some protesters began shouting, “Down with the Chinese Communist Party.”
Political analyst Willy Lam said that authorities began to fear that the "double-edged sword" of nationalism may end up hurting the Party itself. He says that’s why the authorities had to end the issue quickly, and in a low-key manner.