Anti-Japan fever

There’s a superb first-hand account of what’s going on outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing.

In the middle of the street there was a partition with police directing people to parade around it in long circles. People had huge Chinese flags and banners saying things like “Fuck little Japan.” What I was most surprised by were the number of Chairman Mao posters floating around. I asked a few people about this and the consensus was “Mao would never let Japan get away with this.”

As the crowds paraded around, they sang patriotic songs, chanted “Little Japan, fuck your mother,” “Chairman Mao 10,000 years,” “China 10,000 years” and most significantly “Communist Party 10,000 years.” (“10,000 years” basically means “Long live…”)

This mass outpouring obviously had official sanction. The police’s presence was to direct the protests rather than try to hamper them in any way.

This so reminds me of the simmering hatred of Japan that surged to the top back in 2005 with all the controversy over the Yasukuni shrine. There, too, the police facilitated the protestors, some officers handing them eggs to throw. They take a more active role in curtailing the demostrations after protestors become too violent, hurling rocks at the embassy. We always knew the Diaoyu islands were a tinder box; now it’s exploded.

For the single best wrap-up of what’s going on in Beijing you have to see this piece by NPR’s Louisa Lim (follow her links). In Shanghai reporters were allowing protestors to approach the Japanese consulate in groups of 10, and the protestors had to register with the police (!), she reported. Signs and rhetoric showed that right under the surface of the new outrage is all the old feelings about the Nanjing massacre and the old chestnut, Japan’s refusal to apologize for WWII war crimes against China.

Make no mistake: this is government-sanctioned and facilitated. Per Louisa Lim:

Close to the demonstration in Beijing on Saturday, cartons of “free rage eggs” were being given out for protesters to throw at the embassy. On the ground beside them lay a Japanese flag, bespattered by broken eggs. Such anger, once unleashed, could prove difficult to contain.

How’s that for an understatement? I think it’s already difficult to contain, to say the least. It will end when the government thinks there’s been enough and then starts to crack down, just like in 2005. Protesting against perceived injustices is something I encourage. Allowing emotions to take over and becoming enveloped in pure white-hot rage is dangerous. In this zombie-like state people can be manipulated to do the government’s dirty work. It does not reflect well on China when Japanese businesses and citizens are attacked. It does not reflect well on China to be seen as hysterics with no iota of self control. And I know all the bad things Japan did in the past. That’s irrelevant. This is supposed to be about the Diaoyu islands, not unbridled hatred of Japan from 70 years ago.The islands almost seem like an excuse.

Update: Excellent photos of damage to Japanese businesses in Beijing here.

The Discussion: 89 Comments

Since apparently nothing is coincidental, what is the significance of the Mao portraits? That this faction will dominate the next Standing Committee? Awww, Chinese, do you want to be in for that? 😉

September 16, 2012 @ 3:21 am | Comment

Hate Day (1984). Simple, but effective (in the short term).

September 16, 2012 @ 4:21 am | Comment

Back around 1900, the Empress encouraged anti-foreign riots (the Boxer rebellion) rather than risk anti-government riots. It worked, for a time, and that strategy is part of every government’s playbook. After all, why do you think Bush was pushing for war against Iran circa 2007?

September 16, 2012 @ 4:30 am | Comment

Luckily Bush totally failed.

September 16, 2012 @ 4:36 am | Comment

1984. It just came to my mind.

“Four legs good, two legs better!”

September 16, 2012 @ 5:34 am | Comment

George Orwell`s “Animal farm”

September 16, 2012 @ 5:34 am | Comment

I think it’s inevitable that these demonstrations make us think about our own crisis in the Middle East, whether you’re from the US, UK or Germany — all these embassies are under siege or at least under threat. These demonstrations have also, to varying extents, been encouraged by the government (though not at all in Libya). Just like the fenqing, I see wild-eyed zombie protestors allowing themselves to be manipulated for something that is clearly not worth killing and dying for, in this case a vile 14-minute piece of racist pornography hosted on YouTube. I understand the root causes of these people’s rage, just as I understand the Chinese. But it is horrifying to see people surrender their critical thinking and allow hate to wash all over them.

September 16, 2012 @ 5:56 am | Comment

But it is horrifying to see people surrender their critical thinking and allow hate to wash all over them.

That’s what happens when governments deliberately try to stop people from being able to think critically – usually through their education programmes.

September 16, 2012 @ 7:10 am | Comment

What a bunch of rabid dogs. At least some people in the online community have retained some degree of perspective. I think Jason on the other thread inadvertently and completely unintentionally (albeit hilariously) nailed it: FQ are a bunch of bigots.

September 16, 2012 @ 7:50 am | Comment

Japan has territorial disputes with Korea and Russia, in both cases the islands have been developed and occupied (unlike Senkaku). The Japanese manage to deal with this situation without burning down Korean restaurants or attacking Russians. Any chance of the Chinese growing up anytime soon? Beyond pathetic.

September 16, 2012 @ 9:42 am | Comment

Sadly for Japan, it has provided precisely what The Party needs: a foreign bogeyman at a time of economic slowdown, political uncertainty and social unrest.

There is no doubt that The Party will be fanning the flames of this particular issue, but they should be careful not get their own fingers burnt. The nationalists are useful as a vocal minority to encourage the distraction, but one wonders how well they can be controlled? Doubtless among their ranks are a few paid whips who ensure that the frenzy of anti-Japan hatred doesn’t get too far out of line to the point where they begin advocating regime change because the current government is too soft.

Also, from the point of view of the media, the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Every paper carries pictures of protests against Japanese businesses, consulates and places of work – but when Wukan was under siege, nothing.

And yes, it’s still “Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad”.

September 16, 2012 @ 11:03 am | Comment

Try this for a read.

China’s non-CPC parties condemn Japan’s “purchase” of Diaoyu Islands

September 16, 2012 @ 11:13 am | Comment

What’s even worse is that at a time in which political forces up top are so delicately balanced against each other, no Chinese leader will dare come out and risk his political capital on a call for moderation vis a vis Japan.

Really sad. This is not the right way to guarantee China’s primacy or future in the Western Pacific.

September 16, 2012 @ 11:14 am | Comment

Maybe the government thinks this has gone on long enough?

September 16, 2012 @ 12:19 pm | Comment

New Japanese ambassador to China has passed away. No replacement for two months+

September 16, 2012 @ 12:30 pm | Comment

“But it is horrifying to see people surrender their critical thinking and allow hate to wash all over them.”

Then what you call those that protest against their own government? No critical thinking and hate as well?

September 16, 2012 @ 1:10 pm | Comment


Not entirely sure where the idea of Chinese primacy comes from. China has horrifying demographics, a polluted country, an unproductive workforce and an investment bubble. Best case scenario Middle Income Trap, worse case massive bust and civil war. Worlds Next Superpower China bulls need to put down the crack pipe.

September 16, 2012 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

Pardon me, Rhan?

Some protests, as I said in my post, are fine and admirable. There is indeed a time to protest. When protestors become deranged, however, demolishing Japanese shops and cars — that’s when critical thinking surrenders to hate. Do you see the distinction?

September 16, 2012 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

Anybody who knows their early twentieth century Chinese history knows that nationalism can be a double-edged sword.

That being said, how many people have actually come out to protest at these embassies compared to Wukan, Shifang or even Hong Kong recently?

To get a lot of people involved, a la May Fourth Movement, there would have to be something major like another nation actually physically staking their claim to one of these islands.

In the short-term, as the number of protesters isn’t great, the government can just clamp down on them and censor both the media and internet.

If all this was just a ploy to take attention off the leadership, it’s worked pretty well.

September 16, 2012 @ 3:14 pm | Comment

The bloggers here are ‘sincere’ folks. Incidentally, most if not all are westerners who possess western values and ideologies. They really do luv and care for the Chinese people; her wellbeing and place in the future. But they staunchly disapprove of all things ‘Chinese’ such as Confucianism; Tibet; TAM; Chinese historical sentiment; Chinese ideologies and the CCP government – subjects that matter most to the Chinese people and her dignity. They go to the extent of relentlessly poking fun; mocking and demeaning the Chinese (eg. “zombies”; “fenqings”; “rabid dogs”; ad hominem on pro-China advocators; etc.) — unwittingly or otherwise. Such western behaviour is not new, it was evident 100 years ago (when China was semi-colonised), 50 years ago (when she was isolated) and now (when she is industralizing).

The cynicism from the West will never stop because China can never be ‘perfect’. Nonetheless, Richard, “the accidental expat”, et al are bent on beating her down; focusing only on the negatives and amplifying them to mislead and hopefully triumph in this soft war for “reasons that are still not entirely clear to him…”. They offer no solutions whatsoever nor would they exorbitantly praise or grant China the time and credit for her gradual improvements; but instead would relish on the eventual fall or isolation of China – such is the hypocrisy of the team. Whilst cowardly hiding behind the notion of advocating for the good and wellbeing of the Chinese.

September 16, 2012 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

Sure I offer solutions, mainly greater rule of law and less being taught the art of victimization at a very young age. I love China and so do all the commenters here or they wouldn’t be here. I have put up many posts about China’s reforms and economic ascension. I criticize the US, too, especially if you go back and look at my posts about the Bush administration. No one here wants China to be isolated or to fail. If that’s what you conclude after reading a post about how the government is facilitating ant-Japanese protests — a matter of fact — then you don’t know this blog. But thanks for dropping by.

September 17, 2012 @ 2:37 am | Comment

QE3, most of the things that these ‘Westerners’ are calling for are the same as what Chinese people themselves are calling for on the likes of Weibo and in the ever-increasing number of demonstrations.

There is criticism of the Chinese government here and also elements of Chinese culture. You will also find praise aswell. There is nothing wrong with criticism. If you go on a blog, watch a documentary, or a live debate focussing on any country you will find both praise and criticism.

If you want just praise of China, you’ll be hard pressed nowadays to find it as even the state-controlled media outlets are carrying more and more criticism. There is one place you might like though: Hidden Harmonies!

If you don’t agree with anything anyone has written here, why not question it and we can have a debate. For example, you mention criticism of Confucianism. What particular criticisms of Confucianism do you disagree with? Check mine out if you like. I personally think that Confucianism is incompatible with gender equality and so is unsuited for a modern society.

Are you just trying to flame people or are you interested in debate?

P.S. ‘But they staunchly disapprove of all things ‘Chinese’ such as Confucianism; Tibet; TAM; Chinese historical sentiment; Chinese ideologies and the CCP government – subjects that matter most to the Chinese people and her dignity.’

This is gobshite. I don’t know which Chinese people you hang out with, but of all the people that I know, these are not the subjects which matter most to them. What matters most to them is family first, career second, and then all the other stuff comes later. Which, come to think of it, makes them very different from lots of other human beings on the planet, doesn’t it?

September 17, 2012 @ 3:54 am | Comment

Ah, here we go again, another “China Bashing” accusation. Remember people: you’re reasonable, logical and lucid. You have engaged in no “China Bashing” it’s just a tactic to put you on the defensive.

September 17, 2012 @ 6:34 am | Comment

@By Si: Every nation thinks of itself as better than all the others. Some people of each nation outgrow this, but most don’t.

September 17, 2012 @ 6:59 am | Comment

Well, I think the CCP is pretty smart to use this to divert attention away from the upcoming 18th congress, Boxilai incident, and all the rumors and speculations.

It worked before and it’s working again.

What’s wrong with sticking with a simple yet effective strategy?

Good for the CCP.

September 17, 2012 @ 7:24 am | Comment

@BTC: The problem is that the demonstrators are easy to call up and hard to put down. There’s a danger that the CCP will find itself forced to go to war with Japan, a US ally. Such a war would almost certainly go nuclear, with disastrous consequences worldwide.

September 17, 2012 @ 7:53 am | Comment

I don’t think the war could possibly go nuclear even if there was one (which I don’t think there’ll be). Both sides may want the islands, but they are not worth destroying the planet earth and all it’s people.

September 17, 2012 @ 8:14 am | Comment

I’ll go with Richard on that one, I don’t think there will even be war over it. In the grand scheme of things, a regional conflict as sensitive as this could easily turn into another world conflict.

September 17, 2012 @ 8:48 am | Comment

Not sure I agree with the assessment. I just can’t see how the government would want to “encourage” such behavior. Given the overall higher tolerance for “mass incidents” in Wukan, Shifang, Qidong, etc., and the obvious potential for popular anger to be (re)directed, I don’t think the government has any choice but to allow these things to take place and to respond in a forceful tone in its official media. The rage, while irrational, is probably genuine. Even in Hong Kong, over the weekend, while an anti-Mainland smugglers protest was taking place in Sheung Shui, a fairly large anti-Japanese demonstration traversed the Island, with all the flag-burning, banner-waving trappings of a nationalist show of force. I also heard about a Japanese film crew being assaulted (mostly verbally) by locals in Hong Kong.

It’s easy to blame the government for everything, but sometimes it’s “the people” (or portions of the population) who refuse to be informed or rational. Political organizations the world over have always attempted to manipulate them, show deference to them while actively trying to contain them. In societies without a strong civic order, popular outrage can turn dangerous and it’s a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t dilemma for governments faced with such sentiments and a transitioning political regime. Looking at the bright side, however, we see quite a few sane voices on weibo and the violence mainly restricted to vandalism and minor scuffles.

September 17, 2012 @ 9:34 am | Comment

I agree with xsc. If there was an anti-government protest or a public outrage demonstration (like those against various plans for industrial plants that people don’t want)in China and the CCP put it down forcefully, we would be all over it as yet another example of the CCP denying people their freedom of expression. So if a group of rather misguided and possibly bigoted individuals want to protest against Japan, I have no problem with the CCP allowing it per se. The obtuse part comes from law enforcement pitching in on the protest itself (like providing “free rage eggs” and other silliness), rather than actually maintaining law and order and punishing hooliganism. Of course, actually maintaining law and order isn’t really the job of the CCP’s version of law enforcement. And double standards abound as to what protests the CCP will tolerate and which ones she won’t. And when the CCP is inconsistent wrt principles when it comes to which protests she will and will not tolerate, the manipulative nature of the ones she does tolerate becomes self-evident.

September 17, 2012 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

“It’s easy to blame the government for everything”

True enough! However, The Party has a tendency to heap praise upon itself for all the glorious achievements of China, ignoring the individuals who make the difference. Conversely, it’s either “outside forces” or “a small group of troublemakers” that are to blame for all China’s ills.

September 17, 2012 @ 12:09 pm | Comment


You don’t think the government encourages this?

Where does nationalistic sentiment come from? Does state influence in the media and education have a role?

Imperial Britian did terrible things in colonial India, but there are not the same kind of anti-British protests there today.
What of the Taiwan, why aren’t there similiarly violentv anti-Japan protests there?

These protests higlight the selective controls of the government, which amount to tacit approval. SKC, you’re right: if these were anti-government protests being put down, we would probably be all over them and criticising the government for not allowing freedom of expression. But protesting over the Diaoyutais does not amount to freedom of expression, it’s just that these protests happen to coincide with the agenda of the government.

If you were calling for universal sufferage in China and then one day the government held a referendum on whether or not to annex the Diaoyutais, would you see that as a sign of progress?

September 17, 2012 @ 3:42 pm | Comment

There’s a historical exchange of telegrams between Czar Nicholas II and Emperor Wilhelm II, in which they are making demands on each other and at the same time assuring each other that neither of them wants a war, while Austria-Hungary is mobilizing its army, in summer 1914. Treaty obligations, other dynamics in international relations, national interests and public opinion can lead to war, even if everyone involved, of any rank, would assure you that war is the last thing on their mind. The last thing on your mind is still a thing on your mind.

A clash between Chinese and Japanese patrol boats is bound to happen, just as something like the EP-3/fighter jet collision in 2001 had been bound to happen. That won’t have to spin out of control, but just as at this stage, neither may feel that it is in a position to give in.

A trade war wouldn’t be desirable either, neither for China, nor for Japan, nor for the rest of the world. That said, I believe that too many hopes have been placed on trade and economic integration in the past. It is always tempting to believe that making profits would also the best way to avoid hot conflicts. Any historian would be able to tell us otherwise. There was an international economy before WW1, with rapidly growing international cooperation, but that didn’t save the peace. People understood that that war would be much more terrible than any previous war. It may be a crucial question if the leaders back then felt that there was something to gain in it, or if there was more of a fear that there was too much to lose by unilateral efforts to avoid it.

The right thing to do, in my view, would be to take the Senkaku case to the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or to another international court (provided that they take the case), and to pledge to accept such a court’s decision. But I doubt that this is going to happen.

September 17, 2012 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

@The Clock – Glad to see you decided not to try to murder innocent people as you urged others to do. I trust you’re still feeling secure in your manhood. BTW – what happened to Math?

@QE3 –

“Blah, blah China bashers. Blah, blah hurt feelings. Blah, blah death to foreigners.”

Give it a rest. Believe me, we’ve seen it all before.

@Xilin – As this report from CNN makes clear, the government is moving against the protests, but only when they are against CCP offices:

@JR – If family ties and supposed friendship couldn’t stop Willi warring with Nicky, the fact that so many Chinese workers rely on companies like Panasonic and Sony for employment may not prevent war either. Still, I really don’t think there will be a war – put simply there is nothing to fight over, the islands are a set of barren, uninhabited rocks with nothing in the way of buildings or development.

Were the Japanese or the Chinese to attempt to physically occupy the islands this might change matters – but there is not even a secure source of fresh water in the islands (Edit: sources disagree on this, some say there’s a small spring on the largest island capable of sustaining up to 200 people, others say the only source is rainwater), no room for an airstrip to bring in supplies, and scarcely room for a pier on the largest of the islands. Even if the island were developed to the point where it could sustain a permanent garrison, any fighting over the islands would be similar to the brief battle between the UK and Argentina over South Georgia – an occupying force would be totally exposed to warships and aircraft in the area.

But basically no fighting will happen because this is a transparent distraction, as even The Clock recognises.

September 17, 2012 @ 4:57 pm | Comment

Dispatching patrol boats to the Senkakus, as China is doing, isn’t a waste of gas – you can take Beijing literally here: it is about who controls the Senkakus. So far, Japan can – credibly, in my view – say that it effectively controls the islands. That’s not the only criterion to judge sovereignty, but it is one criterion. The Japanese government’s decision to buy islands from private owners – which in itself changes nothing, if the islands are under Japanese sovereignty anyway -, was also an act of effective control (even if it was rather meant to keep the Tokyo governor from buying them instead).

If this spells a factor in Japan’s favor, as far as effective control is concerned, shifts at Japan’s expense, given Chinese patrols, Japan may do just that – establish a garrison there. (Not to mention the more likely short-term event of a clash between the patrol crews.)

Given that judges have no say in the matter, a lot depends on psychology and public perception. It may seem absurd that countries would go to war over the islands, but what begins as a distraction may evolve in pretty unexpected ways – and I doubt that either Beijing or Tokyo have a complete script of the scenarios. One reason for wars – be it hot wars or trade wars – seems to be that their triggers are previously underestimated, and that people believe that if only reason prevails, it can’t happen.

I know that this is a bit mean, but I’ll have to quote your Nehru quote.

But where national prestige and dignity is involved, it is not two miles of territory, it is the nation’s dignity and self-respect that is involved. And therefore this happens.

It doesn’t have to be national dignity. It may also be the idea that giving in, rather than to come to a reasonable mutual conclusion, would open the door for more demands from the side that “won”. This should be food for thought: the means for reasonable dispute settlement are available – but using the dispute as a distraction appears to be much more attractive. I wouldn’t bet on reason (or a sense of proportions) in this kind of situation. Political demands and exigencies need no substantial cause.

September 17, 2012 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

@xilin, not to split hairs, but I do think there’s an important distinction between “encouraging” and being responsible. Sure, tolerance for mass assemblies is very selective, but I believe there are discernible patterns and trends. As long as a protest is not visibly directed at the CCP regime or perceived as separatist, China has shown increased tolerance towards all kinds of localized, mass movements. Part of this is probably due to weibo, or the fact that there are just more of them. But I would think that if the authorities could, they would stop all such protests, including the current anti-Japanese unrest. But if they allowed Qidong to happen and clamped down on this, the rage could easily turn on them. Given the volatile nature of such protests, I just can’t see how they would want to encourage this. People always point to nationalism as a utilitarian substitute for Communist ideology, but I do think that the CCP understands that deep down, theirs is a performance-based legitimacy; appealing to any -ism simply won’t work.

It’s also useful to clarify what we mean by “the government.” We all know China’s local governments have lots of hired thugs, but even in a centrist, authoritarian regime, it’s hard to imagine a seamless political apparatus from Hu to the village chief in a country as vast and as diverse as China. Is “the government” really behind law enforcement officers egging on (sorry for the bad pun) mobs of protesters? The problem, it seems to me, isn’t an effective centrist state that can switch on jingoist fervor, but an increasingly ineffective state at reining in such feelings.

@JR “The right thing to do, in my view, would be to take the Senkaku case to the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or to another international court (provided that they take the case)”

The problem is that no controlling party would relinquish questions of sovereignty to an IC, regardless of how reputedly disinterested the court might be. Japan might be willing to submit Dokdo/Takeshima to the UNCLOS Tribunal, but it hasn’t indicated any willingness to do the same for Diaoyu/Senkaku.

September 17, 2012 @ 5:35 pm | Comment

There is the slight problem that if effective control is the real critriea we look at, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for China (who actually effectively control the Parcel and combine with the ROC have a pretty darn favorable position in the Spartly as well.) or a good thing for Japan (who doesn’t control the other 2 islands it’s claiming.

The riots though, a reflection of many things. Th analogy to the protest that eventually led to the Boxer rebellion is adept, though that would obviously be the worst case outcome. but suffice to say it does reflect on a lot of domestic issue, probably more so than international onces.

Taiwan in the 70s was somewhat similar, as the 70s were a pretty bad time for Taiwan. this whole Diaoyu / Senkaku dispute really broke out when Okinawa was returned to Japan (with these islands) and was soon followed by the ROC leaving the UN, Chang Kai Sheik and Mao dieing, and the eventual end of official relationship between Taiwan and Japan / US. (and much of the world). throw into all this were incidents where local men were shot by US officers on the claims of tresspassing and it’s not hard to see why protest would explode .

Of course, it was not just the international problems, which comparatively was a lot worse than what China is dealing with today. but also a reflection on the improving economy but stagnated political progress much like China faces today.

There are also similar examples of this in Japan and South Korea through the 1960s to 80s, at different points of course. but the general premise is the same, and those old 60s Japanese protest were not exactly the most civil onces either.

In the end, in the greater context of how these country have developed. these protest seem to be a process towards great political reform, wether that would also come in China remains in doubt. but we could hope for the best.

Xi Ji Ping is going to live in interesting times to be sure. hopefully for the better.

September 17, 2012 @ 5:44 pm | Comment

The problem is that no controlling party would relinquish questions of sovereignty to an IC, regardless of how reputedly disinterested the court might be. Japan might be willing to submit Dokdo/Takeshima to the UNCLOS Tribunal, but it hasn’t indicated any willingness to do the same for Diaoyu/Senkaku.

xsc, there may be a controlling party as far as the islands are concerned, but there’s no controlling party in this conflict, and neither side would be able to control the outcome of an internatonal tribunal.

I’m wondering why Tokyo might be prepared to submit Dokdo/Takeshima to an international court’s decision – I can only imagine that these isles are more safely on their side than the rest of the Senkakus.

But my central point is that neither side would unconditionally have an international court decide the matter. That’s why the place will remain a potential flashpoint.

Reading your comment, RollingWave, I think Taiwan should count itself lucky to be in no position to gain control of the Senkakus.

September 17, 2012 @ 5:51 pm | Comment

@XSC – Yet, as others have pointed out, the government responded massively against last year’s Jasmine non-protests, and we see a similar response against any hint of anti-government sentiment amongst the anti-Japan protesters (e.g., police moving into crowds of demonstrators and arresting only those holding banners calling for democracy etc.). Basically, the government is not restraining these protests because it is not in their interests to do so, but would lean on them heavily if the facts were otherwise, and has egged them on in the media. This is just as much the case now as it was in 1999, 2001, and 2005 – this is not a new phenomenon.

And yes, organisationally, the CCP is a monocoque construct.

@JR – I frankly don’t see the Japanese establishing a garrison on the islands. Such an act would require major construction work taking months at least, and easily be disrupted by the Chinese. The same goes for a Chinese attempt to fortify the island.

BTW – Heligoland has always been British!!!!11111ONE

September 17, 2012 @ 6:07 pm | Comment

Such an act would require major construction work taking months at least, and easily be disrupted by the Chinese. The same goes for a Chinese attempt to fortify the island.

It would be a continuation of the current activities, just one step up. And if the current measures spell convenient distractions, that would be another nice distraction.

Before we discuss Helgoland, let’s talk about Zanzibar which has, since ancient times, been German. Your government’s decision to give it away to Tanzania was null and void, and an insidious scheme against our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity!!!

We are going to reclaim our place in the sun. Stay tuned, and be prepared to cry.

September 17, 2012 @ 6:32 pm | Comment

@JR – You leave me no choice but to retaliate through economic means by destroying a plate of Currywurst and a couple of bottles of Weissbier at my local Bierkeller this evening. I also plan to undermine Germany’s car industry by not purchasing the newest BMW 6-Series Coupe, but instead buying a 2nd-hand 1997 Škoda Octavia with 60,000 miles on the clock. The national dignity of the peace-loving British people demands no less!

September 17, 2012 @ 7:27 pm | Comment

[…] Anti-Japan Fever, Peking Duck, Sept 16, 2012 » Inevitable Humiliations, Sept 17, […]

September 17, 2012 @ 9:13 pm | Pingback

The right thing to do, in my view, would be to take the Senkaku case to the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or to another international court (provided that they take the case), and to pledge to accept such a court’s decision.

Such a pledge would be worthless. The Chinese government would refuse to accept a decision recognising Japanese control, partly because it would fear the nationalist backlash. Japan might accept a decision awarding them to China, but I could easily see it being so outraged by the decision (the authorites are, after all, very sure of their position) it refused to accept it.

The Economist proposed a much more interesting solution, agreeing to jointly harvest all disputed areas of their resources and turning the Senkakus into a nature/environmental reserve, including the fishing areas immediately around the islands. I doubt that will get any traction either.

September 17, 2012 @ 9:14 pm | Comment

I’ve read the Economist article – about two weeks ago, I think -, but I don’t think that more realistic than having an international court decide the matter. Mind you, I’m not saying that I expect that both sides would accept court proecdures, and accept its decision – I said that it would be the right thing to do.

The Economist’s suggestion is problematic in the context of stable international relations, too. When it comes to issues of territory, sovereignty, etc., we are in need of rules. From a perspective of biodiversity, the Economist’s recommendation makes a lot of sense, and if every dispute turned into another habitat, that would make ecological sense, too. But politically, it doesn’t.

September 17, 2012 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

but instead buying a 2nd-hand 1997 Škoda Octavia with 60,000 miles on the clock. The national dignity of the peace-loving British people demands no less!

As Xinhua pointed out today, you will only harm yourself by such measures, Foarp. You’d better buy our BMWs, and steal, umm, copy, umm, improve their technology.

September 17, 2012 @ 9:25 pm | Comment

@Raj – Right now UNCLOS is considering the dispute over ownership of Rockall (i.e., UK, Denmark, Ireland) – a dispute marked by the total unimportance attached to the fate that barren rock by the peoples of all the countries concerned, notwithstanding the historical tension between at least two of those countries.

September 17, 2012 @ 9:59 pm | Comment

Let me re-iterate:

In a territorial dispute between Ireland and the UK, two countries with:

– centuries of antagonism between them

– where the British Embassy was burned to the ground in Dublin in 1972

– where the Irish Republic’s leaders planned an invasion of the UK (Exercise Armageddon – they knew it would have been suicidal) as late as 1969

– where terrorists on both sides of the border carried out attacks on the other side

– where politicians on both sides regularly make inflamatory statements directed to the other


September 17, 2012 @ 10:40 pm | Comment


That’s because you islanders have no sense of dignity.

September 17, 2012 @ 11:32 pm | Comment

jc: in practical terms Taiwan is sorta on the winning end of this latest spat so far. the pressure has finally let Japan cave in to our request for a more realistic discussion on the fishing rights around the island (where as previously the “talks” have mostly been a one sided lecture against us. with no intention of actual “negotiation” though there’s no promise that this time won’t be different, but at least with them asking first the odds might be slightly better.)

meanwhile, relationship worsening between China and Japan is in some ways good for busniess in Taiwan due to it’s intermediatary position.

There is some articles in Taiwan recently that noted our records from the late WW2 negotations that revealed some interesting things. such as FDR seem to have at one point suggesting that China be in charge of the post war occupation of Okinawa. that sound far fetched. but it does come from fairly crediable sources (of course, it may have been FDR testing Chang.)

September 17, 2012 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

There’s no need to over-condemn individual acts of violence during anti-Japanese protests.

I’ll explain why later today.

September 18, 2012 @ 12:19 am | Comment

Please. Don’t.

September 18, 2012 @ 1:17 am | Comment

@Richard: War, and especially nuclear war, is a worst case scenario. On the other hand, when enough people get enraged, it’s pretty easy for politicians to lose control of the situation. The usual thinking is “If I back down now, I’ll be massacred by my political enemies, but if I escalate, the foreign leadership will back down.” When both leaders think this way, bad things can happen.

September 18, 2012 @ 1:17 am | Comment

Please. Don’t.

Be tolerant. This is the only place where BTC can share his innermost thoughts.

September 18, 2012 @ 1:25 am | Comment

To xilin,
absolutely, the CCP is encouraging the protests in the sense that they aren’t or weren’t doing much to stop it, and their inaction emboldens protesters. I would say they are responsible for the property damage that has resulted from their inaction. However, i wouldn’t say they’re responsible for the protest itself, in the sense that they didn’t tell people to start protesting.

Yes, state media and education play a role. But to me that’s stretching it insofar as proximate cause is concerned.


The islands themselves are worthless. The whole point is natural resources. Maybe someday soon, the parties will grow up and simply negotiate a shared development plan and a sharing of the revenue/resources. I wonder what the chances are of that happening.

September 18, 2012 @ 1:42 am | Comment

@SKC- Unfortunately even those kinds of agreements can be abrogated unilaterally if a signatory feels it’s worth their while. The Argentines pulled out of a similar agreement over the seas around the Falklands back in 2007.

September 18, 2012 @ 5:04 am | Comment

Yeah, sometimes you can’t save people from themselves. Take a good thing you got going, throw it out the window in hopes of getting a better thing, then faceplant.

September 18, 2012 @ 6:16 am | Comment

Does anybody else see parallels with the May Fourth Movement?

They’re calling for a more assertive foreign policy, if the government don’t supply this, what then?

The government could stop these protests. They have the biggest army in the world. Why do countries have big standing armies?

September 18, 2012 @ 6:31 am | Comment

Richard, I think this is a part of the strategic readjustment occurring due the USA’s newly accessible natural gas reserves. Putting my mining hat on the US will probably be energy independent in 20 years, the first time since 1900.

The US doesn’t have to worry about the middle east so it goes to hell in a hand basket. The US only has to worry about goods going from China/ Japan to the US. The Chinese and Japanese really have to worry about oil being shipped via Singapore, hence the sudden interest in these islands and others. This shift in oil dependency has happened very very fast only really the last 5 years.

When I look now I feel like we are 1848 not 2012. From everyone being worried about keeping the French down to all of a sudden everyone for themselves. Now the World War 1&2 + Cold war are over everyone doesn’t have to keep the Japanese/Germans/Russians down it’s everyone for themselves.

I understand that (Richard correct me if I am wrong) there is a lot of focus on nationalism in China, not unlike every western country post about 1848. It has been an effective method of controlling people in the past. The real danger for us and China is that it can then be used as a reason for national aggression like Germany from about 1890. Like Germany, China can become politically isolated easily. Working in asia for a long time there is alot of residual resentment of the Japanese but also alot of resentment of China in Indonesia, malayasia etc etc.

These things can turn quickly, China really needs to develop to cope with their ageing population. I hope none of this affects trade in the region as we will suffer but mostly China will suffer.

September 18, 2012 @ 8:22 am | Comment

Can someone explain to me why, of all the sworn enemies of the CCP (eg, FLG movement, overseas democracy movement), as long as it’s a ethnically Chinese group, no one dares to say ‘CCP is wrong to fight for Diaoyu island’s sovereignty”

I have yet to find any Chinese community, on Taiwan, or HK, or overseas that blamed the CCP for being ‘too hardline’ on this issue. Their position can only be: CCP is actually weak on Diaoyu island, and is only acting tough for political purposes. If CCP is gone, we can get Diaoyu island back.

Clearly, this ‘nationalism’ is not a product of CCP propaganda, as no one dares to challenge the fundamental assumption of that nationalism (they may challenge individual acts of violence, they may challenge how CCP is only manipulating it for political purposes, but no one dares to challenge the fundamental assumption that the issue of Diaoyu Island needs to be fought, and not yield to Japan).


September 18, 2012 @ 8:35 am | Comment

[…] once unleashed and corralled by the Party. First, from Peking Duck, where Richard calls the dispute a tinder box: This so reminds me of the simmering hatred of Japan that surged to the top back in 2005 with all […]

September 18, 2012 @ 8:47 am | Pingback

Rollingwave, China was never to occupy Okinawa, but rather the Japanese island of Shikoku.

The originally envisaged post-war Japan would have been a partition of Japan into allied occupational zones similar to what actually happened to Germany. China would be responsible for Shikoku, Great Britain for Kyushu and southern Honshu, the United States for central Honshu, and the Soviet Union for northern Honshu and Hokkaido.

This original arrangement was to follow the planned ground invasion of the Japanese home islands during Operation Olympic and Coronet.

The atomic bomb made this unnecessary and the U.S. ending up with the whole hog.

Ceterum autem censeo Japonica delendam esse

September 18, 2012 @ 10:14 am | Comment

To Red Star,
LOL. ‘other people have riots, China has riots, so the CCP has done nothing wrong and is beyond reproach’. Does that about sum up your contribution here? Seriously, dude, apart from the tu quoque (again), you need to acquire some logic.

It’s not that there is an anti-Japan riot. It’s that China has the capacity to quash it, but lacks the will and motivation to do so. In the other places, the police actually tried to put down the riots. That, my dear Watson, would be the difference.

September 18, 2012 @ 11:47 am | Comment

HX….ummmm… these riots you mentioned were state sponsored? The English riots a Con-Dem plot in response to Argentine demands to colonise the Falklands?
As it is, did remind me of something…
““In fact, China has riots more serious than England’s every week,” said one Weibo comment”

September 18, 2012 @ 2:04 pm | Comment

HX….ummmm… these riots you mentioned were state sponsored? The English riots a Con-Dem plot in response to Argentine demands to colonise the Falklands?
As it is, did remind me of something…
““In fact, China has riots more serious than England’s every week,” said one Weibo comment”

September 18, 2012 @ 2:04 pm | Comment

The Clock,

‘Clearly, this ‘nationalism’ is not a product of CCP propaganda’

You state this because there is not significant condemnation of the protests in Chinese communities around the world. One question:

If the Chinese government are not at least partly to blame, could you tell me why people are not burning cars and smashing up shops in Taiwan or any other Chinese community around the world?

September 18, 2012 @ 2:10 pm | Comment

@SKC – And, last year, as soon as there were 16,000 police on the streets of London, the riots ended. The Chinese authorities have the strength to do this in every city in the country – but haven’t.

@The Clock – Except that there have been no riots or major demonstrations in Taiwan or Hong Kong. What activism there has been in HK does not match that directed against MNE.

September 18, 2012 @ 2:12 pm | Comment

I made this comment a couple of weeks ago:

‘Chinese vitriol towards Japan and, at times, the West, is a fact. What’s worrying is if China does grow to be more dominant politically and militarily on the world stage some Chinese people might call for a bit of ‘pay back’.’

That was after I had read a comment on Hidden Harmonies about the ‘impending sword of justice’ and how there might be ‘hell to pay’ in the future for Japan and the West.

Now there are thousands of people marching in China, some of them chanting ‘宣戰’ (declare war). Should Japan and the West be afraid?

September 18, 2012 @ 2:17 pm | Comment

Watch this one minute video on youtube:

Raw Video: Anti-Japan Riots in China

0:05 to 0:12 is a microcosm for what could happen in China with these protests.

Just hear them roar. Awe inspiring.

September 18, 2012 @ 3:38 pm | Comment

“Now there are thousands of people marching in China, some of them chanting ‘宣戰’ (declare war). Should Japan and the West be afraid?”

Put simply: no, because wars are not declared in this fashion or simply because of the activities of a reltive minority of crazed nationalists. Wars are only fought when one side believes it has a chance of winning, there is something to fight for, and there is a battlefield on which meaningful victories can be scored. In the case of Japan and China, neither side could have a reasonable expectation of easy victory, the islands themselves are worthless, and any victory would have only the temporary effect of excluding the other side from the air and sea around the islands without preventing an eventual re-match or war of attrition in which the side trying to exploit the area would have everything to lose.

September 18, 2012 @ 5:00 pm | Comment

people aren’t blaming Beijing for the hardline since you know… techincally speaking the PRC hasn’t done shite about his officially except the usual condemnation (which Taiwan also did), the sending of para-military ship is something even Taiwan has done and what pretty much all contestent up and down east / SE asia is doing in all their island disputes.

Now, how much were Beijing responsible for the riots? that’s a tough question to answer, Beijing certainly had a hand in the protest, but it is foolish to assume the manipulate all the protest like a puppet to the note. instead, protest starts when you will, but won’t when you please.

Now, if the result in the last few days was massive crack down that involved many Chinese civilians getting hurt or even killed and made most of China’s city look like a warzone. would China or Beijing look any better? I highly doubt it.

It’s sort of lose lose situation for Beijing at this point. they can’t actually go to war, but if they don’t do anythign soon they’re going to take as much damage as those Japanese busniess did.

So who wins in all this? only Ishihara Shintaro and his son, who looks increasingly like he’s gonna be the PM of Japan soon enough.

September 18, 2012 @ 5:41 pm | Comment


You take a very rational approach to this. Unfortunatlely, the history books are littered with many irrantional people who do dumb stuff. I agree with your point on how wars are started generally, but there are many exceptions.

I’m not saying that there will be any kind of conflict any time soon. All I said was that maybe as a result of history and its application by the Chinese media and education, there might be more and more people calling for ‘payback’ in the future.

Now, a flotilla of hundreds/1000/2000 (depending on news agencies) Chinese fishing boats is heading for the islands with the Chinese authorities vowing to protect them.

Whatever happened to China’s peaceful rise?

September 18, 2012 @ 9:57 pm | Comment

To be fair, the Chinese government is certainly playing wag the dog here (by omission rather than by commission though), but so is the right-wing mayor of Tokyo.

I also don’t think it’s nearly as bad as the Muslim riots. Wake me when a Japanese diplomat is assassinated, or when the Japanese embassy walls in Beijing are breached and torched, then we’ll talk comparison.

September 19, 2012 @ 12:00 am | Comment

certainly, but Libya was a destablized country to begin with, the Libyan government’s clout over their population miniscule, and most people had already expected something like this from the Muslim extremist anyway.

September 19, 2012 @ 1:32 am | Comment

The Mao pictures I see being held aloft are interesting. WaPo article seems to suggest that this may be symptomatic of some internal conflict within the CCP.
Events are interesting – Bo is “disappeared” after his populism. Trials of the main players in his downfall are held in secret and are scripted (it seems) anyway so we’ll never really know what happened. After the wife and during Wang’s trial, Xi disappears with not a word being said. No one knows anything – rumours abound but not an official peep until Xi turns up again…as if nothing happened. There’s been no mention of the changeover jamboree and lots of news about some rocks in the sea that have hithertoo not been that newsworthy (certainly no Chinese person has stepped forward to buy the islands, unlike those who bid on Chinese antiquities “looted” during the Qing era). And now the organised riots (oh, were that the English riots were so choreographed too – ours were such a chaotic mess in comparison!) in Mainland China have pictures of dear dead Mao the Butcher held aloft.
I have my popcorn ready…

September 19, 2012 @ 6:03 am | Comment

@The Clock – Except that there have been no riots or major demonstrations in Taiwan or Hong Kong. What activism there has been in HK does not match that directed against MNE.

That’s because Taiwan and Hongkong have 1/100 the size and population of China.

And in HK, there’ve been numerous attempts to land on the island by protestors (the same protestors who protested against textbooks from Mainland), leading up to this event.

But I’m talking more about the fundamental position of the gov’ and the people – so far, i have no seen any gov’t or people across the strait that havent’ condemned the Japanese actions, even FLG, the most anti-CCP faction, has not said anything ‘CCP should be less hardlin on Japan, and Japan deserves this island more.’.

In other words, when ‘enemies’ of the CCP tries to attack the CCP over this issue, they realize they cannot afford to take the pro-Japan angle, even though they critize the CCP of fanning nationalism flame, on this issue, they cannot afford to not assume the fundamental nationalist position.

In other words, their argument is ‘CCP, despite APPEARING to be nationalistic and fighting for sovereignty, doesnt REALLY care abou it, to them, it’s just another political tool. We REALLY care about it, and will TRULY fight for you over sovereignty rather than just put up a show.’

So you see, in a way, the enemies of the CCP is taking on a even more hardline and nationalist position.

September 19, 2012 @ 8:23 am | Comment

Some foreigners were queried about their nationality, with Americans lectured for their country’s military alliance with Japan. Foreign men were asked if they had Chinese girlfriends.

Ant people with no job prospects, hence no wife and no nookie.

September 19, 2012 @ 8:44 am | Comment

Interesting article….

Reading the Epoch Times, I can’t see too much anti-Japanese sentiment. Did read this though

Taipei Times also not full of rioting and Japanophobia….

September 19, 2012 @ 9:51 am | Comment

@The Clock,

Do you assume that because people are not critical of the protests, they support them?

A number of celebrities from Taiwan have cancelled Japanese events recently. Is this because they support the protests? Have they come out and said this? No. Maybe they just don’t want to damage their image on the mainland?

There have been protests in Taiwan. But they haven’t involved the violence and wanton destruction seen on the mainland. Why?

Over the years there have been many attempts by people from Taiwan to sail to the islands, but they are always scuppered by the authorities who pressure the fisherman not to take them. The government thinks that if these people get to the islands it will only result in a no-win diplomatic mess.

September 19, 2012 @ 2:55 pm | Comment


Oh, and don’t forget how the ROC government and many people in Taiwan claim that the islands actually belong to them, and not the CCP government.

September 19, 2012 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

Whats with the total vow of sheepish silence over at HH??

September 20, 2012 @ 6:17 am | Comment

@KT – Awaiting instructions? Who cares?

September 20, 2012 @ 6:29 am | Comment

@FOARP. A bit of a smarty pants response ….said kindly.

Myself: I always enjoy reading a bit of tenuous logic and name checking the Greek chorus.

September 20, 2012 @ 6:40 am | Comment

Comments in the Torygraph are getting funny now 😉
From our Allen Snyder (sic)
1 hour ago

There is something China can do.

(1) Set up a study group weighing up options, and constantly review them.

(2) Set up a special dedicated task force to deal with the Diaoyu Dao island problems and associated issues.

(3) Thoroughly study and analyse point by point about Japanese true strength.

(4) Identify also many Japanese weaknesses.

(5) Japan is a lofty country but lacks resources for instance.

(6) Always take action to strike where it really hurts.

(7) Develop more cordial relations with both NK and SK who has dispute with Japan.

(8) Liaise more with Taiwan with closer and coordinated joint operation.

(9) Coordinate more with Russia who have dispute over some islands with Japan.

(10) Stretch out more and further towards South East Asia.

(11) Develop stronger navy and build a lot more aircraft carriers as a matter of urgency.

(12) Consider selling the debts in right amount and at the best time.

The list can go on but that give some idea what the option could be. ”

In here

September 20, 2012 @ 6:49 am | Comment

Develop more cordial relations with both NK and SK who has dispute with Japan.

Nice one. Once China’s leaders can settle their business disputes with North Korea, I’m sure they and Pyongyang will be doing fine.

September 20, 2012 @ 8:31 am | Comment

@KT – I kid. HH is also an occasional guilty pleasure of mine. Both for the ridiculous things it says, and the ridiculous things it does not say.

September 20, 2012 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

Keep encouraging Japan to take over the Senkakus, or Diaoyu. Wait till the conflict goes nuclear, then we shall see who is on the right side of history. Keep in mind, China has more cards to play (North Korea, Al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation, etc. etc) than meets the eye, any attempt to create an all-out war or cold war will exacerbated and endanger American interests. Of course, you can say well, the Chinese are already not playing by the rules, yada yada yada, but do you think the present lull and calm and restraint by North Korea, or even the state of international affairs is a coincidence? North Korea could have had a fully functional missile system to carry NUKES to Japan by now, but it does not. Why not? Because China had exercised restraint on North Korea. You may find that is funny, but wait till a full-blown war over the Senkakus/Diaoyu goes into full-gear. Let’s not even ponder about the Taliban or Iran. The full-scale acceleration of nuclear armament against the USA will come to play when a hot war breaks out. At that point, there is turning back, we are indeed entering the beginning stages of World War 3. Then, think back, and see what happened in 2012 when a few American liberals and neocons, decide that it is okay for Japan to unilaterally decide the fate of a few islands known to the Chinese as Diaoyus and Japanese as the Senkakus. As far as I can see, let Japan return the islands to its status before is annexation. The USA has a moral obligation to see that this is done.

October 30, 2012 @ 3:42 pm | Comment

Keep in mind, China has more cards to play

If Beijing wants al-Qaeda in Xinjiang, or North Koren nukes aimed at China (in retaliation for some recent business disputes, for example), let them go ahead.

Funny how people seem to think that only people outside China should be concerned about those issues.

Besides, the Senkakus are a legal issue. International courts, not terrorists or Pyongyang, are the place to decide the issue.

November 2, 2012 @ 5:22 am | Comment

China is tanking its reputation in Asia and beyond so quickly already that they may reach the point where there is not much left to lose by doing something nasty to Japan over this. Perhaps we can all hope that the Senkakus become to China what the Falklands were to the Argentine junta 25+ years ago.

November 2, 2012 @ 8:42 am | Comment

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