How does Japan look at the Chinese protests?

Almost all of the news we’ve been reading and watching about the at-times violent demonstrations against the Japanese in China have focused on China’s perspective, according to this article in Slate (and according to my own perceptions as an avid news junkie). “The Japanese see things rather differently,” the writer remarks, “but it’s not like anyone would know.”

We are so used to reading about what angry Chinese are saying about Japan in BBS threads, it’s refreshing to see a similar analysis of what the Japanese are saying.

First of all, the Japanese don’t see China as a victim. China’s nationalism, as belligerent as it may appear, is rooted in a sense of suffering from a “century of humiliation” that goes back to the First Opium War and the British acquisition of Hong Kong in 1842. What some of the more rabid Chinese don’t appreciate, however, is that the rest of the world — especially Japan — does not see China as the underdog.

One Channel 2 discussion thread showed a map of a “unified” China that includes Japan, painted red. “Today’s China is the world’s most aggressive country,” responded one commenter. Another said, “No matter how you look at it, the imperialist nation is China.” Yet another, “ ‘Down with Japan’s imperialism!’—I don’t want to hear that from some guys who have anachronistic territorial expansion ambitions.” In a separate discussion, a commenter wrote, “the next World War will be China vs. the world.” There were also calls for Japan to develop a stronger military of its own and not be so reliant on the U.S.-Japan security alliance. “As America’s power has gotten weaker, Japan must protect its own country.”

Some threads, she writes, question whether these protests are even about Japan, and might instead be an outlet for Chinese people’s frustration with domestic issues, like the great divide between the rich and the poor.

I realize analyzing message board threads isn’t the most sophisticated or accurate way to gauge Japan’s attitudes toward the riots, but it’s good to hear about the Internet buzz in Japan, which has been totally drowned out by the buzz in China.

The article ends by saying the current demonstrations are counter-productive.

The sad thing is, many Chinese truly believe they were wronged by Japan. They cite not only Japan’s World War II-era behavior, but its failure to acknowledge the depth of suffering inflicted on the Chinese. After these protests, this legitimate grievance will be even less likely to be heard by Japan.

I disagree with the way she expresses this, as I believe the issue of Japan acknowledging the wrongs it inflicted on the Chinese during WWII is a dead one. How many more apologies do they want? But it’s counterproductive in many other ways. China has shown a very ugly side the past several days, and I don’t believe these riots and their accompanying violence have done anything to improve China’s image or to change the notion among many that China remains a prickly, hypersensitive, jingoistic child that is in no way ready for prime time.

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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: 52 Comments

Whatever ‘soft power’ aspirations it may have had have certainly been beaten to a pulp in a self-inflicted fashion in the last little while.

Unfortunately, as far as that victimhood business is concerned, the CCP will likely continue to flog that dead horse as long as so many people are so obliging in their response.

September 23, 2012 @ 11:19 am | Comment

i remember being at a conference with a scholar from Korea, Japan, and China discussing history, memory and its effects on international relations in the region. after the China scholar gave the party line and the Japanese scholar mentioned that apologies had been made, two comments from the audience were the most remarkable.

a Shanghainese girl asked, “If there have been so many apologies from Japan, why hasn’t anyone ever told us?” (there was no real response)

another student asked, “If those apologies weren’t enough (which the Chinese scholar claimed), when will it be enough?”

The answer was, in not so many words, “Never.”

September 23, 2012 @ 11:23 am | Comment

Re the apology thing, isn’t the reason it remains an issue because Japan still has a shrine honouring war criminals? Would that not be like Germany having a memorial honouring Nazis? How would that feel to Jews? Also, I might be wrong but I understand the Japanese history textbooks have a revisionist view of its actions in China during WW2. Would appreciate a future post from u addressing these points.

September 23, 2012 @ 1:37 pm | Comment

As long as the American don’t apologise for what they did in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no way the Japanese would stop honouring the war criminals.

September 23, 2012 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

@kien
The shrine in question, Yasukuni is dedicated to the spirits of all Japanese who died in service of the emperor. It does not specifically dis-enshrine war criminals. It is also a private institution in a country that respects freedom of religion and speech.

As such, the mere existence of the shrine should not be an affront to any country that has the slightest understanding of freedom. Now, the fact that some prominent Japanese politicians have visited the shrine in their private time on an unofficial basis (including a couple of recent prime ministers), is understandably offensive to some. Politicians defend themselves by responding that there is no meaningful shrine to the millions of Japanese who died. To remedy this issue, some have called for an official government sanctioned monument to the war dead (at Chidori-ga-fuchi), but the proposal has met with heavily politicized resistance.

The nazi comparison is actually pretty meaningful for one important reason: Germany does not enjoy freedom of speech to the level that Japan does. Certain political ideologies are illegal. No such legislation against “thoughtcrimes” exists in Japan.

As for the textbooks, this is again a question of appreciating the myriad of opinions that crop up when you introduce freedom of opinion. No current commonly-used, government-approved textbook in Japan denies any significant established war crimes, but some do not explicitly mention or sufficiently dwell on specific issues that both Korea and China feel they should. There apparently exists at least one government approved current textbook with minimal adoption that is pretty worthy of criticism, and draws a lot of ire and website hits. The majority of them though are pretty benign.

September 23, 2012 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

“Would that not be like Germany having a memorial honouring Nazis?”

Shrines aren’t a way of honoring the dead in Germany. But we aren’t as different from Japan in our ways of remembering “our” war dead, as people outside Germany may think. Not sure if Americans remember Ronald Reagan‘s visit to the Bitburg Cemetery, where members of the SS were buried, along with members of the Wehrmacht. The visit was, according to the New York Times, made at the insistence of then chancellor Helmut Kohl. As far as I remember German press coverage, that assessment is correct.

If any of my grandparents or great-grandparents had been war criminals, I’d need to find an attitude. I would condemn their crimes, but I probably wouldn’t condemn them.

I do think that Kohl was wrong. It was a typical way of camouflaging a criminal past with present loyalty in an alliance.

I haven’t been to the Yasukuni Shrine – it may be a vile place indeed. But I do also know that ancestors matter more in Japan, than in my country. To demand that they simply should be discarded is a demand that would express ultimate power over Japanese people. If I were Japanese, I’d probably ignore such demands.

“After these protests, this legitimate grievance will be even less likely to be heard by Japan.”

But there’s a more important point than that, in my opinion. It’s about responsibility for the past and the future. Yes, at least some of the Chinese demonstrations were ugly. But that’s the responsibility of the demonstrators in question. How to look at their own past is a responsibility of the Japanese people, and it continues to exist. The demonstrations don’t change that.

September 23, 2012 @ 4:28 pm | Comment

But I do also know that ancestors matter more in Japan, than in my country. To demand that they simply should be discarded is a demand that would express ultimate power over Japanese people. If I were Japanese, I’d probably ignore such demands.

It’s worth pointing out that the enshrining of the convicted war criminals was carried out by the Yasukuni Shrine priests a long time after the end of WWII. It is something that the Japanese government had and has no control over. The priests won’t reverse that process, and I believe some have argued it’s not even possible (if you actually believe in Shintoism).

So you have a situation like justrecently described with Bitburg (thanks for giving that specific example, JR). Should the memories of millions of war dead be cast away because of a few very bad eggs? I think whether or not people go there should be a personal choice.

How to look at their own past is a responsibility of the Japanese people, and it continues to exist.

Yes, but if Chinese (and other) people feel they’re not doing it right, expressing their views in the wrong way can be counter-productive. Human beings are flawed, emotional creatures, and even if someone could/should change their behaviour, screaming in their face will rarely result in a positive reaction.

The Chinese government may feel it’s very clever linking the past to the present, going on about Japanese imperialism in the same breath as demanding control of the Senkakus. This is a line taken by anti-Japanese Chinese people too. But it makes Japanese people cynical, thinking that all China is doing is trying to use the past to demand things it is not entitled to. This doesn’t mean Japan is teaching its war history correctly, but it explains why any rectification may be further away than it was previously.

September 23, 2012 @ 5:18 pm | Comment

@It is something that the Japanese government had and has no control over.

That is horseshit! The shrine has Democratic Party of Japan’s fingerprints all over it. Glorifiying Japanese imperalism saying Japan was creating an Asian “co-prosperity sphere” during the war. The shrine is so politically slanted that makes freedom of religion increasingly more moot.

@The Chinese government may feel it’s very clever linking the past to the present, going on about Japanese imperialism in the same breath as demanding control of the Senkakus.

Diaoyu/Senkakus issue linking to Japanese imperialism is hardly different. As explained by Han-Yi Shaw, he states by per post-WWII arrangements, Japan was required to surrender territories obtained from aggression and revert them to their pre-1895 legal status. By 1945 Japan and China adopted the administrative arrangement of Taiwan, with the Chinese unaware that the uninhabited “Senkaku Islands” were in fact the former Diaoyu Islands. The 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty of the US handing Diaoyu/Senkakus island to Japan was a travesty as neither China and Taiwan were invited as signatories which both China and Taiwan vehemently protested.

September 23, 2012 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

Raj, I think that Japanese people who dilute the memory of the past because of Chinese demonstrations are no better than Jason, who is keen on diluting the ugly sides of more recent Chinese history – and its present tense – with the “Japanese excuse”. It’s a very common pattern to do that – but it isn’t helpful. Japan doesn’t need to think about its past because of Chinese power. As far as that’s concerned, Japan needs to defend its sovereignty, and that’s it. But to display callousness about “comfort women”, victims of massacres etc. harms Japan’s own society. The individual victims deserve respect, and no stupid remarks from nationalist Japanese politicians.

I think we agree about the Yasukuni Shrine. But the war crime issue goes far beyond the shrine.

September 23, 2012 @ 8:30 pm | Comment

I think that Japanese people who dilute the memory of the past because of Chinese demonstrations are no better than Jason

You’ve missed the point. I’m not talking about people who use the riots to say Japan committed no war crimes. I’m talking about average people that aren’t necessarily concerned with changing the way history is taught, or are open to change, but get annoyed by the protests and riots. It’s not an excuse to sweep history under the carpet, it’s a natural response that they feel less willing to make concessions.

September 23, 2012 @ 9:39 pm | Comment

I don’t think I’ve missed the point, Raj. I’m saying that regardless of how other people act, my action is my own responsibility. If Chinese demonstration have an effect on me in terms of truthfulness, my behavior is – as you said yourself – flawed. If Japanese people to whom this description applies don’t care about the effects lies have on their own society, I don’t think they should bother to change their approach. But for the best of their own country, they should.

Everything else turns them into “victims” – people who can’t make decisions of their own, and whose decisions depend on what “the others” do. That’s a reaction that I see usually ascribed to fenqings here.

September 23, 2012 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

If Chinese demonstration have an effect on me in terms of truthfulness, my behavior is – as you said yourself – flawed.

But it’s human, and quite understandable. After all, it’s unlikely it will make anyone permanently change their views. But temporarily it will make it harder to reach a consensus.

September 23, 2012 @ 10:07 pm | Comment

Hi SK, Richard and Raj. Long time no see.

This is a very interesting topic. I saw this out at PD’s twitter site and decided to read more.

So, let me start with my heritage and how it applies here. I am an American living in Taipei. My heritage is Russian Jewish. I am 61 years old. My grandparents emigrated from Russia in 1912 as young adults, escaping from the brutal treatment at the hands of Russians. A number of my relatives, including my great grandfather, great grandmother, great-uncles and aunts stayed behind, waiting for the Messiah.

I noticed, JR, you are a German. I feel very comfortable with Germans, in general, despite the atrocities some of my ancestors received at the hands of Nazis during WW II. I have a few German friends and easily worked with a number of Germans at Microsoft.

I have long since made peace with the past, concentration camps, brutal treatment of the Jews, pogroms, losing relatives to both the Russians and Germans before and during WW II and the racist treatment my father received from German-Americans while he was growing up in Cincinnati, OH. I just don’t forget. Nor do I dwell on it. I just remember.

I remember the Bitburg visit by Reagan; I don’t remember being bothered by it very much. BTW, the US has its fair share of numerous National Cemeteries, with Arlington being the most famous. I know that the Germans have dealt with neo-Nazism since WW II. JR, how does the German government and Chancellor Merkel deal with neo-Nazis, far right parties and hate issues?

So, IMHO, bitterness for sins long ago committed is not healthy. It can eat away at a person from the inside.

Personally, I don’t want the Chinese government controlling the sea lanes in the western Pacific Ocean. I don’t trust the CCP for a second.

The protests in China against Japan probably have several roots. Here is a list, in no particular order: the mistreatment of Chinese pre-WW II and during by the JPN army, humiliation (real or imagined) by foreign powers in China during the last 200 years or so, Chinas quest for territories and control of the western Pacific Ocean and sea lanes, general anger, fenqing, “the great divide between the rich and the poor” in China, nationalism & the CCP whipping up nationalism to distract the Chinese from paying attention to all the horrible internal political, industrial and environmental issues which pop up continually (“wagging the dog”). I will stop there. I actually think that “wagging the dog” may be the largest root of all. I like SK’s statement, “Unfortunately, as far as that victimhood business is concerned, the CCP will likely continue to flog that dead horse as long as so many people are so obliging in their response.” LMTO!

Can we realistically sort out opinion on both the Chinese and Japanese side of the Senkakus/Diaoyutais and establish some meaningful trends? I don’t know.

September 23, 2012 @ 10:11 pm | Comment

JR, how does the German government and Chancellor Merkel deal with neo-Nazis, far right parties and hate issues?

Answer in short: I believe that Merkel and most top politicians are committed to non-discrimination, and they are aware of dangers from the extreme right.

And a longer and less convenient reply: this involves issues of trust between politicians and voters (both sides distrust each other more than in the past), at times, it involves anti-semitism, which is not really “gone”, and a mixed German attitude towards immigration and “foreignness”.

There are Germans who feel that “the Jews” can’t “leave them alone” about the past – the problem is that anti-semites have always believed that they were the “victims”, in whatever way. That’s the kind of “hurt feeling” that enables progroms, and that enabled Nazi rule. The attitude is irrational, and it’s a very traditional attitude. Only reason and judgment can overcome that, and I think that’s where politics can’t play a major role. These are grassroot issues, and individuals matter more than top politics. People need to know themselves if they want to influence politics for the better.

Media excitement doesn’t help, either. At least one German mainstream paper hardly moderate its commenter threads online, and seems to feel gratified by every anti-semitic or anti-foreign comment that appears, as it seems to prove their point that the country is full of nazis. Others do moderate, but are asked questions about “censorship”.

That’s not a uniquely German excitement, though. I’ve heard French people complain about similar issues, and one such complaint from a Slovenian: “People are [...] divided into liberals (labeled as ex-commies) and conservatives (labeled as ex-nazi collaborators), arguing about who killed more people during WWII and similar nonsense”.

I believe that if we want freedom, we will have to live with “contradictions” like these. I’m not thinking of life in Germany (or Europe) as particularly dangerous, but there’s a keen conscience that there are too many things that do go wrong, and even more things that could go wrong – a pretty nervous atmosphere.

I don’t believe in a few “liberating acts” that could make things better. I rather believe in continuous improvement. But that’s also why I don’t believe in excuses – be they German, Japanese, or other.

September 24, 2012 @ 5:04 am | Comment

@Jason

“That is horseshit! The shrine has Democratic Party of Japan’s fingerprints all over it. Glorifiying Japanese imperalism saying Japan was creating an Asian “co-prosperity sphere” during the war. The shrine is so politically slanted that makes freedom of religion increasingly more moot.”

The DPJ was founded in 1998 – curious to how the shrine could have its fingerprints all over it.
#epicfail #mustdobetter

@everyone

Living in Japan, I’d say the Japanese see the demos as more evidence to the argument that the Chinese are a bunch of nutters who need holding at arms’ length. However my Japanese isn’t particularly great yet, so please take what I say with a pinch of salt. Once the dust has settled on this, I think Japanese companies will probably seriously look at moving their factories out of China and there will be greater support for political parties who espouse greater defence spending and the tearing up of the Peace Clause of the constitution. I am not sure China really wants this. In response, China could start blocking rare earths to Japan. I understand Japan has large stockpiles of rare earths but how long they would last whilst they are suing China through the WTO is the million (or billion) dollar question.

September 24, 2012 @ 8:27 am | Comment

Will this convince the Chinese that it’s really time to look in the mirror? Absolutely horrible.

September 24, 2012 @ 11:12 am | Comment

And finally, before I turn the computer off, here is a new article on an old subject on this blog — China’s brainwashed youth.

September 24, 2012 @ 11:57 am | Comment

When he said “even though China’s constitution permits demonstrations, the government prohibits them except in special circumstances,” that accusation is so farther from the truth. It is completely ridiculous considering some protests without the “special circumstances” the author states which CCP switched their views to the protestors.

September 24, 2012 @ 2:02 pm | Comment

To Jason #8:
“The shrine has Democratic Party of Japan’s fingerprints all over it.”
—and how do you figure that?

“The shrine is so politically slanted that makes freedom of religion increasingly more moot.”
—you wouldn’t happen to have examples of this “slantedness” now, would you?

So you can’t get around the fact that the shrine is private, so you’re left with “fingerprints” and “slanted”? Give it a rest, pal. If Si’s keywords don’t become trending topics, it’ll be because not enough people caught a load of your gem of a comment.

That said, there should be a better way to allow people to pay their respects to war dead without inviting criticism that people are paying respect to war criminals. Having them all in one place is needlessly bad optics.

+++++++++++++++

To Jerry,

long time no see. Hope you are back to full-pedal power.

September 24, 2012 @ 2:07 pm | Comment

To Richard #16:
animals.

To Richard #17:
“rational patriotism”. LOL. If there’s one thing the CCP can do, it’s coming up with hilarious euphemisms. I guess a mob beating a Corolla driver with steel pipes would be rational patriotism with Chinese characteristics.

September 24, 2012 @ 2:17 pm | Comment

Were Japan and the islands just excuses for class warfare?

“This reminds me of all the innocent victims during the Cultural Revolution. Those who cannot afford their own cars smashed those of others, all in the name of patriotism! Are these people really human?”

September 24, 2012 @ 2:38 pm | Comment

“you wouldn’t happen to have examples of this “slantedness” now, would you?”

*No mention of imperial Japan’s association with Nazi Germany
*Excuses for the bombing of Pearl Harbor
*Claiming imperial Japan as a “victim”
*little if any acknowledgement of the suffering that the Japanese imperial army
*Claiming imperial Japan creating an Asian “co-prosperity sphere” during the war.
*Claiming imperial Japan has the credit for liberating the Asian nations from colonialism

I am truly disgusted by people taking the talking point of the religious nutjobs in Yasukuni Shrine by abusing freedom of speech and religion as a mirage behind their jingoism.

@—and how do you figure that?

The orgy of right-wing nutjobs from Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party coming to the Shrine.

September 24, 2012 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

Si, “keeping China at arms length” – “the Chinese” would be something different – should be a natural reaction, and not only for Japan. But the demonstrations are (or were) just a symptom, not the cause. I think it is also worth asking how many Chinese people actually took part in the demonstrations – and how many stayed away.

The real problem is that economic relations with China are political. That’s nothing unusual – an “ambassador” to the WTO from a small developing country will think twice before starting a fight with a peer from a developed country, especially from America. But what most Western discussions leave out of the account is that growing prosperity in China is seen as a dual-use tool by the CCP, too, and actually more keenly so than by developed countries who take their economic clout for granted.

Feng Zhaokui, still or until recently deputy director of the Institute for Japanese Studies at CASS, told People’s Daily this month that because Japan still provides much-needed technology, the economic card must be played cautiously. I don’t think that a leading scientist makes such statements – in an interview with People’s Daily – coincidentally; this reflects the opinion of the top. But there’s a reverse argument to this, too: Japan is only safe from blackmail as long as it has something to offer, and as long as it can get strategicially important raw materials from places other than China, too. (Feng also mentions the “rare-earths” issue.)

This is where mainstream media usually stop discussing issues. But anyone who looks somewhat beyond mere (and often short-term) business interests should be aware that cooperation with Beijing strengthens a totalitarian system, and its international weight. That question – in my view – is the elephant in the room. I may be wrong, but to me, the discussion about those “demonstrations” which occur every five or ten years anyway, is just moving through the corners around that elephant.

This, too, makes it more difficult for Japan than for Germany to confront its past. I think I understand that. But as I said, it’s a weak excuse for not addressing ones own issues, too. If you can only mind the dangers that may come from your neighbor by demonizing its citizens – and disregard for real sufferings by real victims is a way to dehumanise them once again -, you’ll be unable to mind the dangers that come from within your own society.

September 24, 2012 @ 3:40 pm | Comment

Jason, you are such a numb-nut.

You said “The shrine is so politically slanted…”. But when challenged to provide examples, you come up with Nazis, Pearl Harbour, and co-prosperity spheres? Those may be true, but what in hell’s name do they have to do with the shrine? Sweet bejesus you’re dumber than a plum.

You said “The shrine has Democratic Party of Japan’s fingerprints all over it”. But when challenged to provide some substantiation, the best you’ve got is that right wingers go there? When you said “fingerprints all over it”, were you being literal, as in their fingerprints are on the door handles, stair railings, and floor mats? WTF dude. Clearly, I’ll never take you seriously, but with 5-star- flag logic like that, how do you possibly expect any sane person to do anything but LOL?

September 24, 2012 @ 4:01 pm | Comment

“The shrine has Democratic Party of Japan’s fingerprints all over it”

This has to make the top-ten of the stupidest comments ever left on this blog, despite the tough competition for that particular ‘honour’. A list of all the ways in which this sentence is a total fail would be very long, so here’s some of the highlights:

– The DPJ is committed to the prime minister not visiting the shrine (this was an election pledge, the Japanese people elected them – popular policy?).

– The DPJ was only founded in 1998, many decades after the shrine was first dedicated.

– The DPJ is a left wing party and in no sense ‘nationalist’.

– The DPJ supports creating a secular memorial excluding war criminals.

And so on. It takes particular skill to be so wrong in such a short sentence, but Jason appears to have managed it: bravo!

September 24, 2012 @ 4:30 pm | Comment

@Jason, you are such a numb-nut.

Back at you.

@but what in hell’s name do they have to do with the shrine?

Are you effing kidding me?

@But when challenged to provide some substantiation, the best you’ve got is that right wingers go there?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how much influence the right wing Japanese nationalists to keep the Yasukuni Shrine’s revisionist agenda intact.

September 24, 2012 @ 4:36 pm | Comment

@The DPJ is a left wing party and in no sense ‘nationalist’.

Oh really? Even though the current president Yoshihiko Noda requested his cabinet members to not go to Yasukuni Shrine, he actually supported Koizumi’s visit to the shrine. He criticized Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for his position on Japanese class A war criminals as “war criminals”.

Not nationalist, enough?

How about Jin Matsubara, the current chairman of the National Public Safety Commission appointed by Noda? Remember him when he supported the propaganda and revisionist film, The Truth about Nanjing.

@The DPJ was only founded in 1998, many decades after the shrine was first dedicated.

Just because a party is founded later than the shrine did, party’s position can change.

September 24, 2012 @ 5:15 pm | Comment

@justrecently

The problem resolves around the feeling that (i) anything Japan does is never good enough and will never be good enough and (ii) admitting any sort of guilt appears to involve signing up to the CCP version of history which appears to come direct from an alternative universe. Comparisons with Germany are weak in my opinion as countries such as the UK (where I am from) are not trying to use Germany as some sort of whipping boy. IMHO any concessions from the Japanese will simply lead to a demand for further concessions. The Chinese view kindness as weakness, their rude treatment of Obama when he was first elected tell us this.

I don’t believe that the Japanese demonise the Chinese, I was making the point that this will strengthen those that seek to. Ultimately it does not matter how many citizens are involved – if the govt either loses control or permits gangs of hooligans to burn down private property this is a clear matter of concern. In this case primarily the Japanese but other people must also wonder what happens if their country “offends the feelings of the Chinese people” and the nutters are allowed to run rampant for a few days. For example, the UK has territorial disputes – the ones that come to mind are the Falklands and Gibraltar. However all three countries appear to be able to agree to disagree without having their citizenry going on some sort of violent looting spree.

September 24, 2012 @ 6:15 pm | Comment

And as to how the Japanese people see these protest, well, as far as I am aware, they see them much the same way the rest of the world does – as evidence of just how complete the Chinese government’s control over the publicly-expressed views of PRC citizens is.

On the China blogs, it is common to see people write about the ‘nuanced’ (read: not entirely the government line) and diverse (read: not always government-approved) views held amongst the general public on any subject in China. This is all very well, but it is worth recognising that:

1) Most people would be afraid to state their ‘nuanced’ views publicly for the very good reason that it’s possible to go to jail (or laogai) for them.

2) In the main people who do hold ‘nuanced’ views about foreign affairs in China (as opposed to domestic affairs, for which only those willing to deny or ignore the evidence of their own eyes continue to maintain the govenrment line) are even more of a severe minority than they are in most countries. This is due to the lack of diversity in the media. Yes, I know, Southern Weekend and all that, but regular culling of editors at papers (including those in the Southern group)which voice ‘diverse’ views should discourage any reasonable observer from exaggerating the toleration the government has for ‘diversity’.

3) It is common to use these examples of ‘nuanced’ views to deny that the comprehensive control the government excercises over educational content and the media amounts to brainwashing, with those who do say so even being accused of being closet racists. Personally, I cannot see the way history is presently taught and presented in China as being anything other than pure-grade propaganda designed to instill an omni-directional dislike of the outside world and an adoration of the party and its leaders. Those who continue to hold ‘nuanced’ views despite this are examples of where the government has failed, not examples of a freedom of opinion generally enjoyed in China.

September 24, 2012 @ 6:18 pm | Comment

@Jason – So basically you admit that the DPJ (i.e., the party elected by the Japanese elctorate to run their country) ran against visiting the shrine, discouraged visiting it, seeks to replace it, and had no part in creating it. Here’s the point where you should just admit that you’re wrong rather than digging in further.

September 24, 2012 @ 6:21 pm | Comment

The Chinese view kindness as weakness, their rude treatment of Obama when he was first elected tell us this.

No disagreement here, Si, except for “the Chinese”. My point isn’t that Japan should make concessions to Beijing. My point is that Japanese politicians can babble away about real victims, and people still vote them into office. My point isn’t about what this does to China; it is about what it does to Japanese society. If you believe that human rights are universal, you can’t discount the human rights of a former “comfort woman”, for example, because of the way Beijing is using those stories. OK – you can do that, but it doesn’t speak for a society that condones or endorses it.

As for the dangers that come from China, I think we don’t disagree, Foarp – what confuses me, though, is the reluctance to understand that what Japan experiences these days will be the experience of any nation that will be at odds with China in the future. Technology transfer goes on (from Japan, too – and one reason for Beijing to advocate “rational patriotism” serves exactly that strategic goal, and certainly not “civil society”). I don’t think you can easily top my CCP-phobia, folks. I believe that no foreign company should be allowed to make use of a vacuum that is left by boycotts of Japanese goods. In that regard, we need more state-capitalism when doing business with China.

Just discussing how “bad” China is won’t cut it. And to feel smart when looking at goofy Chinese demonstrators (or having fun with dimwit fenqings here who probably aren’t even Chinese citizens) won’t cut it either.

September 24, 2012 @ 6:51 pm | Comment

Its kinda interesting to see the fundamentally different perceptions over those demonstrations in China (and the chinese foreign disputes in general).

-Like most people here see those as being planed and made by CCP for the goal to divert attention from internal problems, as were the brainwashing propagandas/educations, in the same fashion that the disputes between china and any neighbouring country were always caused by aggressive CCP foeign policy and so China should always comply/backoff.

-For the most people in China the view is exactly the opposite, brainwashed or not they actually see in such disputes being the weakness of CCP in addition to the failure of handling internal matters, as they would see CCP foeign policy being weak and humiliating for trying to defuse conflict instead of embracing it and prove that they will go to any length in settling disputes long overdue. Though the chinese people have never been content with their foreign policy being almost “traditional” from the time to late Qing periode through ROC and now PRC. Sometimes actually forced to comply because of the internal struggles, since they hold more value on national sovereignty and pride being strong and independent nation such matters over foreign disputes were actually more devastating(to the government) than internal problems.

September 24, 2012 @ 7:36 pm | Comment

@JR – Believe me that tech transfer is a concern in industry and companies going into China either have their eyes open to it or they don’t. Companies see it in, for example, the high turn-over in personnel they expereince if their offices are near those of Huawei.

Anyone who remembers the 2008 anti-France protests knows how grievances allowed to lie for a time can suddenly be revived as part of an offensive agaisnt a particular country. The last demonstrations against the UK were in the 1990′s, but no doubt if the circumstances require it, talk of the Opium Wars will suddenly spring up, and protests will erupt against the British Museum to serve whatever cause the CCP has in mind. Watch Chinese television, review the content of Chinese education, and you’ll see the seeds planted there for potential harvesting at a later date – with the US (a country with which China actually has few genuine grievances, hence the manufacturing of grievances like the SACO/中美合作所) and Japan as primary targets; the UK, India, Korea, Vietnam, France as secondary targets; and the rest of the world in general being the target of a vague, omni-directional sense of mistreatment.

Fortunately Britain is not nearly so vulnerable to being singled out in this regard as countries which depend heavily on China as part of their manufacturing chain. This is because our manufacturing either died off in the latter third of the last century, or is part of an international conglomerate (e.g., Airbus) which would require an equally damaging effect on many other countries.

The thing I think people ought to get over is treating these demonstrations as if they are based on genuine grievances. They quite simply aren’t. Whatever real problems remain between Japan and China (and they do exist, and are not overwhelmingly of Chinese origin) the current demonstrations are neither proportional to them, nor related to them in any meaningful sense.

September 24, 2012 @ 8:38 pm | Comment

Recall it was the same Jason who for weeks and months maintained that China’s persecution of the FLG sect was over differences on matters of spiritual practice and doctrine.

September 24, 2012 @ 8:45 pm | Comment

#32 got caught in the spam filter.

“Rational patriotism” = Newspeak.

September 24, 2012 @ 10:54 pm | Comment

To 26:
“Are you effing kidding me?”
—nope. This is the part where you demonstrate the connection between Nazis/Pearl Harbour/etc and this supposed political “slantedness” and influence on the shrine. But you can’t. And the funniest part is that you are simply to stupid to realize it, and/or too incalcitrant to admit it.

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how much influence the right wing Japanese nationalists to keep the Yasukuni Shrine’s revisionist agenda intact.”
—but it takes an idiot to suggest that this amounts to political interference or influence. “fingerprints”? Give it a rest, dude.

#27:
“Just because a party is founded later than the shrine did, party’s position can change.”
—so has the Shrine’s practice actually changed since the DPJ came into existence in 1998? Those intered war criminals were there well before 1998. So what’s different? Where are these freakin LOL “fingerprints”? Man alive you are a specimen.

September 25, 2012 @ 3:40 am | Comment

you are simply to stupid to realize it Please tone it down a notch. You can make the same point without using names. Thanks.

September 25, 2012 @ 3:42 am | Comment

MiniTrue Bulletin Distribution Immediate Fullwise:

Ref: Comrade alleged ungood beating drivecar Japanese:

Comrades assert spirt of WickedMuch Japanese Aggressor in head of beaten comrade, comrade used doubleplus metal shackle to beat ungood spirit out of head, report now beaten comrade feel doubleplusgood and muchlove Big Brother.

September 25, 2012 @ 8:57 am | Comment

Old Indian wisdom.
“When the horse you are riding is dead, you should change the horse”

September 25, 2012 @ 10:34 am | Comment

@Narfweasels -

“Oldthinkers Unbellyfeel Ratpat, Verging Crimethink!”

September 25, 2012 @ 6:00 pm | Comment

[...] Another East-Western beauty contest has been going on there on the Peking Duck. The threads are often very helpful for me to reflect on my own views – as a German, my country’s past is similar to Japan’s. The difference is that the whole world seems to believe that in Germany, we have done “a much better job” at addressing the crimes of the past. That’s certainly true when it comes to history books, but few people seem to remember then U.S. president Ronald Reagan‘s visit to the Bitburg Cemetary, where members of the SS are buried, along with Wehrmacht soldiers – at the insistence of then German chancellor Helmut Kohl. I’m not going explain my views here; they can be found there, among many others. [...]

September 26, 2012 @ 12:33 am | Pingback

@Comrade FOARP

Doubleplusgood bulletin: ChingSoc firstprimary lovepeace aircraft carrier ready! Party promiselots deployment for shits and giggles only, make nothreat to ungrateful neighbours.

September 26, 2012 @ 6:34 am | Comment

Yes, the only thing the aircraft carrier Liaoning is going to launch is a red carpet and Big Specs Hu in his tailored Mao suit. If the neighbors get taken by this floating gin palace, they deserve to become tributary vassals.

September 26, 2012 @ 7:52 am | Comment

Old Middle-earth wisdom.

“If you find that you are riding a dead horse, get off it and run away.”

September 26, 2012 @ 8:15 am | Comment

Get off. Equine hotpot.

September 26, 2012 @ 8:18 am | Comment

@KT, comment 43
It does look pretty flash, though. Has a ski deck and all….though I have looked and looked but can’t see the snow machines. I’m guessing the entertainment and casinos are below desck ;-)

September 26, 2012 @ 11:51 am | Comment

Aha – I see the entertainment is being formalised as I type
http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/735378.shtml
http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/735450.shtml

PS, ignore my comments to Cleo – I do enjoy teasing people ;-)

September 26, 2012 @ 11:53 am | Comment

If anyone wants a clear and concise explanation as to just how meaningless these islands in question are, ultimately, in the quest for natural resources, I would recommend reading this.

Since these islands are useless from a strategic sense, it really reinforces the fact that the whole charade (from all sides) is just an elaborate chest-thumping (+/- egg throwing, +/- Toyota-burning) exercise.

September 26, 2012 @ 12:23 pm | Comment

My views tend to learn towards those of Peter Lee at the Asia Times:

The preoccupation with attempts to prove the insincerity of the anti-Japanese demonstrations by demonstrating their government links is, I believe, a dangerous distraction.

Because it seems to imply that, if the demonstrations are government-organized/facilitated/supported/condoned, they can be dismissed and, if the demonstrations are removed from the equation, the PRC’s strategy on the Senkakus/Diaoyu can be dismissed as a futile exercise in Astroturfing (simulation of a grass-roots movement).

This, I think, draws from the preconception that impassioned popular demonstrations against authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, in Russia, and in China are the only ones that matter, and if they advance the agenda of authoritarian actors, they can be ignored.

However, the regime’s intention is not to try to manufacture a false Chinese simulacrum of Tahrir Square.

I believe the CCP is sending a series of messages to Japan and the United States via these demonstrations, and to send the message it is important that everybody is aware that they actually were state-managed.

First, the CCP is determined not to back down in the Senkaku/Diaoyu conflict. Although Japanese Prime Minister Noda stepped in to purchase the islands as a conciliatory measure in order to short circuit a carnival of provocation planned by Shintaro Ishihara, the governor of Tokyo, the CCP whipped up anti-Japanese sentiment and demonstrations on the announcement of the purchase regardless, in order to demonstrate its deterrent capabilities in economic and diplomatic warfare or, in old-fashioned terms, fire a shot across Japan’s bow.

Second, China does not intend to provoke a military confrontation at the islands that would viscerally alarm Japan’s populace and elite, and allow Japan to deploy its unanswerable geostrategic advantage: the military alliance with the United States. China’s provocative movements in the waters around the islands are carried out by maritime surveillance vessels and fishing boats, not the navy.

Instead, Japan will be confronted at its most vulnerable point: the economic interests of its corporations and the well-being of its citizens inside China.

Third, the CCP is conveying that it can manage the unrest that goes hand-in-hand with a mass campaign, and will be prepared to escalate the damage it inflicts on Japanese businesses in China as needed despite the losses suffered by the Chinese economy and Chinese employment.

Finally, the ultimate purpose of the furor over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands is to demonstrate that Japan must rely on accommodation with China, as well as its alliance with the United States, to achieve peace and prosperity.

In this regard, the protests were quite successful, in that they force Japan to recognize the limitations of its security alliance with the United States. The US won’t come riding to the rescue if Japanese businesses and investment on the mainland are burned, so Japan must rely on China to protect those.

September 27, 2012 @ 1:08 am | Comment

I agree the protests can’t be dismissed simply because they were government-facilitated. After all, this isn’t NK, and those people came out to protest of their own volition…sort of.

The tricky part is to decipher how much of it was truly their own volition, and how much of it was the product of years and years of CCP “education”. Unfortunately, that question is impossible to answer.

This does demonstrate that the CCP is willing to sacrifice foreigners (in the physical sense, with property destruction; and in the monetary sense, with trade shenanigans like increased port inspections of Japanese imports) for the purposes of making a point. But that’s really nothing new, and shouldn’t be at all surprising.

September 27, 2012 @ 3:16 am | Comment

Peter Lee is probably the most subtle propagandist the PRC has.

September 27, 2012 @ 8:55 pm | Comment

I’m closing this thread. You can continue the discussion about Japan in the thread above.

September 28, 2012 @ 2:03 am | Comment

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