Sun, September 19, 2010
China > Mainland > China-Japan ship collision row

Chinese take to streets, peacefully

2010-09-19 02:04:22 GMT2010-09-19 10:04:22 (Beijing Time)  Global Times

Protesters hold a national flag Saturday on a street close to the Japanese embassy in Beijing in front of police, demanding that Japan release a Chinese boat captain who Beijing says has been illegally held since last week. Photo: Zhang Siyang

Around 50 protesters gathered outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing Saturday, waving the Chinese national flag and telling Japan to "get out of the Diaoyu Islands," all while marking the 79th anniversary of Japan's invasion of China.

Sirens also wailed across major Chinese cities, including Harbin, Xi'an, Changchun and Chengdu, to mark the date, which served as another chance to protest Tokyo's seizure and continued detainment of a Chinese fishing boat captain.

Ties between the two nations are at their most sensitive since former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the WWII Yasukuni Shrine five years ago, analysts in China said, though most of them noted that the recent incident would not come as a major blow to the relations.

Throughout the country, additional protests involving hundreds of Chinese, most of whom were in their 20s and 30s, took place outside the Japanese consulates.

Police officers were deployed to maintain order in various cities. No violence was reported.

"Don't forget national humiliation, don't forget September 18," some shouted, referring to the attack on the barracks of Chinese troops in Shenyang in 1931, which marked the beginning of a Japanese invasion and occupation that lasted 14 years.

In Shanghai, about 20 demonstrators protested in front of the Consulate-General of Japan amid a heavy police presence. And almost 100 people marched through downtown Shenzhen, protesting Japan's detention of the boat captain, while singing the Chinese national anthem.

About 70 protesters marched through central Hong Kong toward the Japanese consulate, chanting for the return of the ship's captain and for Japan to stop claiming sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, according to an AFP report.

A Chinese trawler with 15 people onboard was illegally detained by Japan after it collided with two Japanese patrol vessels September 7 off the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. In all, 14 fishermen were brought to China on Monday, but the captain is still being held.

A press officer of the Japanese embassy in Beijing, told the Global Times in a telephone interview that he was aware of the demonstrations near his embassy, adding that no property damage took place.

"I hope such demonstrations will not have a negative impact on the overall development of bilateral relations between China and Japan," he said.

A 30-year-old demonstrator surnamed Chen told the Global Times that the demonstration was organized online and was meant to convey the sentiments of the Chinese people to the Japanese government.

Li Nan, a member of the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands in Beijing, told the Global Times that the demonstrations reflect the true public opinion, and mounting anti-Japanese sentiment could prevent Japan from making more provocative actions.

Feng Zhaokui, deputy director of China Society of Sino-Japanese Relations History, told the Global Times that the purpose for Japan's insisting implementing its so-called legal procedure is a mere attempt to claim its "sovereignty" over the Diaoyu Islands.

Feng said Japan may use the dispute over the South China Sea issue and China's concern about the US-South Korean joint military drill in the Yellow Sea as the opportunities to make its political gambles.

"Japan may still choose to follow the so-called legal procedure, but it should not intensify the conflict any more," Feng said. "It is a friction, but will not have a vital impact on the Sino-Japanese relationship."

Japanese newspapers were united in their view that the worsening row with China over the arrest of a Chinese fisherman in the East China Sea needed urgent attention, AFP reported.

"China has been high-handed on the issue," the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's biggest selling paper, said. "We hope the cabinet will stand firm and insist on what it should insist on."

Huang Dahui, a professor of Japanese politics at Renmin University of China, said Japan needs to create an atmosphere to serve its domestic political purposes and also help increase the national defense budget.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu confirmed Friday that China had transported some exploration equipment to the Chunxiao oil and gas field.

Jiang said China has complete sovereignty of the Chunxiao oil and gas field in the East China Sea, and any Chinese operations in the field are legal.

Feng commented that former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama once proposed to discuss the issue of the Diaoyu Islands with China, which had been attacked by Japanese right-wing politicians. Therefore, taking his predecessor's experience, Japan's current prime minister, Naoto Kan, has to show a tough attitude toward China, he said.

"The will of the Japanese people has been distorted by Japanese media and politicians," Feng said. "And that also make pressure on the new administration."

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