Just saw several posts on several anti-Japanese protests that were reportedly held in Chengdu, Xi’an, and Zhengzhou today. Depending on your source, the number of participants seemed to range from several thousand to several tens of thousands. John Kennedy has a post up at Global Voices Online with translated Twitter tweets by Chinese users about Chengdu and Xi’an. David Bandurski’s post over at China Media Project covers Chengdu with a collection of photographs with translated captions like:
I find myself scratching my head over what directly motivated the organization of these demonstrations because, quite frankly, I thought the Diaoyu Islands issue had already blown over.1 Obviously, that doesn’t seem to be the case for these people.
What struck me on a personal level was the contrast between this news and the throngs of Chinese people I witnessed yesterday happily visiting the various Japanese pavilions2 at the 2010 World Expo here in Shanghai. Apparently, today even saw a massive increase in daily visitors, culminating in breaking the previous World Expo record set by Osaka in 1970. The wait times for these pavilions must’ve reached even more ludicrous levels.
On one hand, you have the thousands of Chinese university students calling for boycotts against Japanese goods and reportedly3 engaging in some vandalism fitting the popular narrative of the nationalistic fenqing. On the other hand, you have thousands of Chinese visitors waiting hours in monstrous lines to get into Japanese pavilions while throngs of Chinese youth line up waiting to shell out 40 RMB for “the most favorite TAKO-YAKI brand in Tokyo”4.
Do I sound as if I find the juxtaposition to be strange? I hope not but wait, which group represents China and the Chinese people? To you? To others?
To the Japanese who protested at the Chinese embassy today5?
And vice versa?