Cracking down on anti-Japanese protests

Unfortunately, it’s harder to do once you let the genie out of the bottle, as the CCP did in recent weeks when it facilitated and all bu topenly encouraged the protestors. Now they’ve got to got to get the genie back into the bottle.

China launched a new effort Saturday to prevent anti-Japanese violence before a sensitive anniversary, warning against protests and calling on the public to express patriotism sensibly.

Chinese leaders, warning of possible damage to important economic ties with Tokyo, have demanded calm following weeks of protests that left the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and a consulate damaged.

Those demonstrations were prompted by new Japanese textbooks derided for allegedly whitewashing Tokyo’s World War II-era abuses, opposition to Japan’s campaign for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat and disputes over control of the East China Sea.

Official concern is especially acute as China marks the upcoming anniversary of an anti-Japanese protest on May 4, 1919, that has become a symbol of resistance to foreign domination.

“Express patriotism rationally. Don’t take part in illegal protests. Don’t make trouble,” said a text message sent Saturday by Beijing police to millions of mobile phone users in the Chinese capital.

Warnings also were spread by text message and state media in several other cities.

Wednesday’s anniversary is awkward for Chinese leaders because the protesters in 1919 complained that China’s leaders were weak in the face of Japanese aggression – a charge that current rulers are eager to avoid.

How ironic, after providing transportation and things to throw, to see the CCP begging its people to take a rational approach to Japan. Chalk one up to the foreign correspondents in China, many of whom said the anti-Japanese demonstrations would inevitably backfire, forcing the CCP to clamp down and condemn them. It’s exactly what happened.

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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.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

Yes, I wonder if anything will happen on May 4th.

I’m guessing no as I would imagine that the police will be out in force to prevent any large protests from developing.

May 1, 2005 @ 12:44 am | Comment

Maybe this is not a direct response to your above posting, but I have been following your web log for a long time; I sometimes have read some of the comments too. Maybe a similar comment has been made on your website before, but never the less.

I am irritated by the amount of understanding that is shown towards Japan:

As long as Japanese prime-ministers insist on honouring those who have been convicted of war crimes during WWII, I will always have doubts as to the honesty with which their apologies towards the victims are being made. It seems to me that they wish to keep open a relationship to that rightwing community in Japan that beliefs that everything the Japanese did from 1905 through 1945 was for the greater good of the Asian peoples, such as the Koreans and the Chinese, and that during this period their have only been certain unfortunate incidents with an unknown number of casualties.

I understand that until about 1985 no Japanese prime-minister ever paid honour to the Japanese war criminals, so there is no long-term tradition. So in my view it must be seen as a political statement.

Could you image the German prime-minister (Bundeskanzeler) every year pay tribute to the graves of Goebels and Himmler? Even if their graves were on a kind of German National Graveyard this would certainly not be accepted in Europe!

The Japanese should choose what they want.

Honour their war criminals, as they do, then the world should never trust the Japanese.

If the Japanese wish there deserved place under the sun in this world, they should renounce their war criminals unconditionally.

As they say: you can’t have your cake and eat it! When abroad apologize for war crimes and then for political gain at home honour the perpetrators.

I wonder if ever a Japanese prime-minister has made a clear-cut statement about the Japanese behaviour in WWII in the Japanese parliament. I honestly don’t know.

Furthermore I belief one crime can not be offset against another, so it is not justified to say that the present Chinese government has no right to complain about Japanese war crimes because that same Chinese regime has committed similar or even greater crimes against its own people.

For some mysterious reason the us-government at the time felt that there was a significant difference between Germany and Japan. Whereas they never considered a German surrender whereby Adolf Hitler could have remained president of Germany, they went out of their way too keep emperor Hirohito is his place. Supposedly because mr. Hirohito was without power, and consequently did not bear any responsibility for the crimes committed by Japan since the 1920’s.

From following some of the comments on your postings recently, the above described disease, that is that Japan is different from the rest of the world, still seems to be highly prevalent amongst your readers. Maybe you or someone amongst your readers could enlighten me about this issue.

May 1, 2005 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

We have been over this numerous times. The Chinese have a right to be furious. Demonstrations like the ones we saw recently were counterproductiver and hurt the CHinese much more than they helped.

May 1, 2005 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

Criticising the Japanese for Tokyo shrine visits has been giong on since 2000 but I don’t recall any protests then.

Also, demanding this country apologise to that country and what exactly constitues an ‘apology’ is not the issue. I mean, how far do you want to go back? Should we apply this to all countries?

Bashing the Japs is the only political passion that mainlanders are allowed. God forbid that the CCP should give up one single speck of political power.

The recent protests were allowed to take place because of current issues (Security Council, Sea-bed oil/gas, Japan cutting off aid 20% per year etc etc.)

As Richard just said above, it’s a dangerous game the CCP are playing and it’s already back-fired to some extent as a large police presence in Chinese cities on May 4 will demonstrate.

Fortunately, (and it isn’t always the case) the world saw the recent Chinese protests as what they were. This, I’m certain, has greatly damaged China’s image and wish to be seen as a responsible nation.

May 2, 2005 @ 2:55 am | Comment

The world would be a whole lot better place if we can just let bygones be bygones and move on. However, history is bound to repeat itself if we don’t face it head on. Almost 100 years later, Armenians are still demanding an apology from Turkey. Are they justified? Yes. Were terrorist attacks and assassination attempts on Turkish diplomats in the 80′s justified? No. Did it help the Armenian cause? No. Do these misguided actions justify Turkey’s historical revisionism? No.

The anti-Japanese protests have done a great disservice to legitimate Chinese grievances regarding Japan’s failure to confront its past. Demonization of all Japanese, especially the present generation that had nothing to do with the war, is downright idiotic.

A Japanese friend of mine recently said to me that history is written by the victors of war. This is exactly the kind of lack of national introspection from Japan that the protesters are talking about. However, because of all the negative press lately, I couldn’t confront this comment without coming off like a rabid Chinese nationalist. To all the mindless protesters out there who gave the Japanese right wing moral legitimacy, I hope you are proud of yourselves.

May 3, 2005 @ 6:15 am | Comment

Well said schticky. Still, the phrases ‘pot calling the kettle black’ and ‘people in glass houses’ both spring to mind. The PRC has some nerve demanding that any country, yes, even Japan, should “Squarely face up to history”.

The CCP wouldn’t know what squarely facing up to history was if it came up and bit it on the arse.

May 3, 2005 @ 7:16 am | Comment

Great comment, schticky. Is anyone listening?

May 3, 2005 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

Joe,

How do you explain Korean reaction? Are they controlled by the CCP also?

May 7, 2005 @ 12:49 pm | Comment

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