We all know about the near-uncontrollable hatred today’s young Chinese harbor against Japan, but I didn’t quite grasp the scale until I read this intriguing article.
The explosive growth of the web in China, where the number of users is growing by more than 25% a year, is often cited by advocates of political reform as a source of hope for greater openness in the world’s last big communist state.
But there is increasing evidence that the opposite may be true. Sites advocating democracy, religious freedom or union rights are closed down by the authorities and their operators often arrested. But there are countless sites like Mr Song’s devoted to one of the few political passions permitted by the government: hatred for Japan.
Every day on the “My View of Japan” bulletin board, Mr Song and his contributors post reports of perceived slights by their neighbours, who are referred to at least once as “shitty little Japanese”. Many predict that military conflict is inevitable, and some wish it would come sooner rather than later. “I’m 30 and a fire burns in my heart,” writes one contributor. “Only war can extinguish these flames.”
While hate-mongering is a feature of extremist internet chatrooms around the world, in China such inflammatory comments appear to represent anything but a small minority. In the past two years, small anti-Japanese protests have mushroomed into nationwide campaigns through the internet and mobile phone text messages.
The article focuses on one prosperous young man in Beijing who seems to have it all, and yet is a burning pillar of rage and fury, obsessed with Japan’s refusal to acknowledge and take responsibility for its monstrous crimes against the Chinese people in World War II. I can understand the anger, but I have to admit I can’t understand the obsession, where one’s entire life is focused on and consumed by the events of 65 years ago. Read the article to see just how all-consuming this hatred can be.
Thanks to the reader who alerted me to this.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.