Anti-Japanese Protests In Chengdu, Xi’an & Zhengzhou

Chinese university students protesting against Japan on October 16, 2010.

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:

Thousands of anti-Japanese protesters in Chengdu, China.

Thousands of anti-Japanese protesters in Chengdu, China.

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.

Japan Industry Pavilion at Shanghai 2010 World Expo.

The Japan Industry Pavilion. Wait time at ~8pm Friday, October 15th was ~2 hours. Yeah, not one of my finer photographic works.

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.

Big red-orange octopus on the Japan Industry Pavilion where takoyaki is sold at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

TAKO-YAKI TIME! 40 RMB for 8 octopus balls and a drink. Sorry hapless bystander caught in my flash. Overexposure is your fate.

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?

Protesters carry a banner and national flags during an anti-China demonstration march in central Tokyo on October 16, 2010. Japanese national flags fluttered as more than 1,000 people gathered for a second major rally since a bitter territorial row flared up on a maritime incident last month near the disputed islands known as Senkaku by Japan and claimed under the name Diaoyu by China.  AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

Protesters carry a banner and national flags during an anti-China demonstration march in central Tokyo on October 16, 2010. Japanese national flags fluttered as more than 1,000 people gathered for a second major rally since a bitter territorial row flared up on a maritime incident last month near the disputed islands known as Senkaku by Japan and claimed under the name Diaoyu by China.  AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

And vice versa?

  1. Well, except for this, I guess. []
  2. Japan Pavilion, Japan Industry Pavilion, Osaka Pavilion, etc. []
  3. by Twitter users, not Xinhua. []
  4. I think that was the tagline they had up, not sure. []
  5. See here. Warning, linked website has mature content. I’m looking at you, KT. []


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  1. Bin Wang

    This article was on CNN a day or two ago and may be relevant as a trigger:

    I guess this thing had started to blow over until some smart guy in Tokyo decided to bring it up again in order to gain, I assume, nationalistic votes during Japanese elections. What choice did the current in power government have but to give full accord?

    I highly doubt Google will want to tangle with Beijing again over this.

  2. xian

    Hm… I thought it blew over too. A counterprotest? Or maybe just waiting for the next big outrage or something.

  3. husunzi

    The first banner above reads: “China’s most important issue/ Japan must be exterminated”

    !!! :-(

  4. Some Guy

    Just for the record I think that both sets of protesters are competing for the title of world’s most ignorant retards.

    There, now that I’ve got that off my chest I feel much better ;)

  5. I would say that people are trying to derail the thread with irrelevant stuff, but that would assume that discussion here was ever on the tracks.

    Truth is, the vast majority of Chinese living in Japan are happy to be there. Most young Chinese will spout historical grievances about Japan, but when it comes right down it, they are likely to listen Japanese music, copy Japanese styles and buy Japanese electronics (made in China).

    Likewise, whilst some Japanese will talk about the criminal element amongst Chinese immigrants, or focus on conflicts in the East China seas, these people are in the distinct minority.

  6. WOW,

    I got a text message from a digital comrade

    “Cars have been flipped n’ burnt 在 Xi’an”

    —–and that was 12 hours ago!

    song of the article,

    -Insane Clown Posse

    negative 五毛党 asking,

    I am a rock, I am am ______

    you know the rest…..

  7. Jones

    Ok so, are we even now? I mean, the Japanese and the Chinese…they’ve both protested each other, arrested each other, etc, etc. We’re all good now, right? What? No?

  8. Octavian

    The Japanese – peaceful protest by concerned citizens.

    The Chinese – Barbarians run wild with group think.

    Now we’re even. Get over the pissing contest.

  9. lolz

    Ya, I was at the Japan’s pavilion in Shanghai Expo two weeks ago on the last day of the Chinese holiday and the line went for over 4 hours during the day. I waited for only a little over 1 hour at night to see the show.

    Judging from the length of the line I would say that the Japan show was the second longest one at the Expo (the longest line was at the Saudi pavilion). So no doubt Japan is still very popular in China.

    Though most people from both countries don’t care, I would say that the anti-Japanese sentiment is getting stronger in China, just as the anti-Chinese sentiment is getting stronger in Japan. I say this because I am seeing more and more anti-China related stuff in Japan’s talk shows, and I hear more anti-Japan rants from average people in Shanghai of all places. Oddly enough the US and Korea are benefiting from all of this, especially in the auto sector.

    At the end of the day the Japanese passport is still one of the few around the world which allows one to enter China without VISA though. This makes good sense too; japan invested a ton in China and last year it enjoyed something like 20B USD trade surplus vs China. Japan’s retail (especially the high-end ones in places like Ginza) are betting on Chinese visitors to make the ends meet.

    • Yeah, everywhere you go in Japan, in all the large cities there are stores offering special details for people using Unionpay (i.e., Chinese credit cards), and tour guides leading Chinese tourists from one shopping centre to the next. The nationalists can shout all they want, but the truth is that business and plain old greed have far greater weight than this nursing of grievances from more than 65 years ago. You hear a lot of rhetoric about hating Japan from people in China, and a certain level of dislike for China and its government amongst some people in Japan, but I think a lot of it is not really very sincere.

    • xian

      What’s so great about the Saudi and Japanese pavilions? What was in them?

      • lolz

        The Japanese Pavilion had 4 major attractions. There was the violin playing robot, I think it’s made by Honda or Sony. It walked out and played some famous Chinese tune in front of the audience. Then the hosts showed off some neat Cannon camera prototype which could simultaneously recognize at least 20 faces in the audience (for a reference my Nikon D90 could only recognize 4), then focus and quickly take a snapshots of them all. Then there was this gigantic LCD screen with some kind of weird motion detection operating system. The hosts demonstrated this technology kinda like Microsoft’s Kenetic to manipulate the TV, moving the photos taken from the audience and into the display by waving his hands. Finally you get to this futuristic moped looking thing similar to the segway, but made by toyota.

        I didn’t go to the Saudi pavilion because the line was over 4 hours long even at night time. The structure looked great from the outside though, definitely the best looking building at the whole expo. I have not idea what’s inside either…

  10. Some Guy

    What’s really surprising about this whole “islands collision” incident, as I might have said before, is the betrayal of the pro-China Japanese left by Chinese liberals. Fenqing will be fenqing, but when liberal intellectuals become fenqing then even I get worried.

    An interesting read here:

    The letter is in English but commentary in Chinese. What is surprising is that this is the editor of Asahi saying that we could be looking at the end of the “strategic reciprocal” relationship (!!!).

    Mr Wang notes in his introduction that liberals from both countries are becoming nationalistic Dr Hyde’s on this issue. I can’t agree that this describes the Japanese left. A more apt description would be a sense of abject panic that accommodation with China may no longer be possible in the long term.

    From the supposedly “liberal” Yanhuang Chunqiu, as to why Okinawa should be taken over by China….

    This is the context for former-PM Abe’s recent “lebensraum” outburst.

    • jdmartinsen

      I don’t think that’s from Yanhuang Chunqiu — it appears to be an opinion piece for the decidedly un-liberal Huanqiu Shibao by Tang Chunfeng, a Japan specialist at the Ministry of Commerce.

    • lolz

      You can easily be a liberal on domestic issues and hawkish on foreign policy.

      Keep in mind that in democratic nations politicians’ domestic messages tend to divide among the party lines, but being tough on foreign nations always unites people and thus can broaden the candidate’s base. I think that’s the case with Japan, since it’s election cycle is starting again.

      Though China is not democratic it has its own political cycles. I think every 5 -6years you begin to see a shift in political landscape and around every 10 years you get a new leader at the top. HuJinTao is going to retire within a little over a year and the local politicians are going out of their way trying to stir up issues so they would get noticed. Attacking Japan is popular as ever for the same reason why attacking China is popular in democratic nations: it unites people and detracts from domestic issues.

      The thing to keep in mind though, is that politicians tend to talk the talk but rarely walk the walk. If China really wants to punish Japan or the US it can easily do so economically. Japan invests heavily in China and the US consumers make up something like 30% of China’s GDP so if the politicians really want to screw with China they can do so as well. They won’t however, because their economies are so closely tied. However, there is no doubt that China is using the anti-Japan sentiments as a bargaining chip in negotiations, just as the other nations are using China’s Human Rights issues as their bargaining chips.

  11. King Tubby

    Japan plans to add 6 more subs to its fleet, and China embargoes rare earth shipments to Japan.

    Probably be revisiting this topic on a regular basis down the track, or at least until Xi Jinping settles into his new job.

  12. King Tubby

    Forget these ultra-nationalist yahoos on both sides of this divide. It is the bigger global picture revolving around trade, investment, minerals and energy, which is more important. And in brief, it boils down to the fact that China’s is surely acquiring a trade and investment pariah status.

    China is losing the love around the world. Japan is turning to Vietnam and other countries will most definitely follow. There is nothing like an insurance policy. Germany is concerned about investment trade blackmail over rare earth imports and raising the issue at G20.

    Chinese investments in Africa are losing their gloss locally, what with the corruption of already-corrupt local elites, a case in point being the recent shooting in Zambia…a repeat incident in fact, if you read the Lusaka Times. Re: investments in the Congo. When the locals there really feel abused and exploited, they don’t request a management meeting, they reach for the pangas.

    And the usual suspects, spare me any reference to China’s debt liquidation in Third World countries. The cost of doing business in Africa.

    Sure, China is prosecuting self-interested policies like every other country to secure future resources, but it is being done in a way as to totally tarnish its reputation as a good or even just-okay global citizen.

    I’m leaving out the language genocide protests taking place in Tibet at the moment, the PRC blocked UN report on munitions sales in Sudan and US currency woes.

    Negative media perceptions gain a life of their own, join with similar narratives and what have you got……..

    Its no use whining about Western media bias on this one, since it is self-inflicted.

    • pug_ster

      China’s is looking out for its own interests first and even if it means ‘losing some love,’ so be it. Their first priority is domestic issues and international issues can take a back seat.

      Despite the bad news that China losing confidence around the world, China is a mercantile country and will trade with other countries like Japan despite not having good political ties.

      I think that in the next 30 years, another 1/3 of China’s population will move from rural to Urban areas and thus will become a stronger country. I would not be surprised that China will have more diplomatic clout then.

  13. xian

    It is the 24th and there are still daily protests in both countries…

  14. S.K. Cheung

    The ostensible motive of the protests (at least in China) is one thing. In fact, in some cases, they’ve got government permits to stage them. Maybe the CCP wants to tap into this nationalistic streak for their own benefit. Or maybe they want to regulate it so they can keep it at manageable levels, and not let it get out of hand and develop into some international incident that they don’t need. Who knows.

    But there are more interesting aspects, to me. First, some protests are going ahead without government approval. It seems some people are speaking out, with or without government approval. That’s always a healthy thing in CHina.

    Second, it seems some of these protests are being co-opted to become protests more of domestic issues than of anything to do with Japan. Issues such as unemployment, and millions of new college graduates not being able to get jobs. In some instances, I gather there’s stuff about censorship and freedom of information as well. Whether this will amount to anything, who knows. But having rank and file Chinese people bringing these issues to light suggests that they’re important to them, and they’re less afraid to make that known as compared to years gone by. It also suggests that some of these concerns may not be restricted to “dissidents”, as some people might have us believe.

    • King Tubby

      SKC. My news scroll picked also picked up your para 3 points. Some contradictory (or are they so contradictory) narratives being linked here.

      But to my more general point. pug_ster’s remark that China is a mercantile (underlined) trading nation par excellence is spot on, but his 30 year futurology is questionable.

      Sure, the management of public and domestic online dissent has been pretty successful to date. Since people are beginning to lose the fear, it is simply impossible to look at 30 year timeframes.

      Who knows what is around the corner in terms of internal issues and incidents which will galvanise a serious challenge to CP/State Power. Lord knows, there are lots of different groups pissed off about this or that issue. Domestic volatility is the key word. External geo-political pressures on China run a very poor second.

      One thing is certain. Any attempted political liberalisation process in the future will be fraught with the greatest danger, when it comes to the CPC maintaining its power monopoly.

    • Jones

      I was in Tokyo Narita airport last night, and half of the news reports were about the Chinese anti-Japan protests with no mention of the Japanese protests. I think both governments are enjoying a little bit of citizen-based neighbor bashing…but unfortunately I think the Chinese side is a bit more widespread.

    • Wukailong

      “First, some protests are going ahead with out gov ern ment approval. It seems some peo ple are speak ing out, with or with out gov­ern ment approval. That’s always a healthy thing in CHina.”

      That’s actually a viewpoint I’ve heard from liberal-minded people here many times: even though many of these nationalist demonstrations aren’t well thought-out, they are at least a possibility for venting.

  15. King Tubby

    Okay People, its time to go to the mattress, Mafia style.

    You have to Fight the Power: Isley Brothers
    My home turf.

    Check out the Kilgour organ report, and you will understand why I’m going all USA and buying a shitload of personal protection equipment.

    Donations gratefully accepted.


  16. S.K. Cheung

    Hey KT:

    Your link was missing the “l” at the very end.

    That’s an interesting story. First of all, who knew tinting glass makes it bullet-proof?!?

    Second, to be fair, I think we need to hear from the cops to get a better sense of who the suspects might be. I mean, even for a rabid admirer of the CCP, one would need to have more than one screw loose to reconcile a drive-by of a newspaper with something resembling acceptable human behaviour.

    On the other hand, many more people likely know about Epoch TImes in Brisbane now than before the shooting, so one wonders if the brilliant masterminds (whoever they were) actually think these things through before-hand.

    • Jones

      It’s like that covering used on windshields to keep them from shattering and flying everywhere in the event of a car accident. Or, say, if you’re breaking into something via the window or windshield, cover it in tape first. It keeps it from making a loud shattering noise because it’s all still stuck together.

  17. from…..


    dont worry about goubao

    you have to deal with me……

    real 五毛党 style 文明 (civilization)


    every comment you write I will make 50c replying to you!

    and shove it in your “dirty cunt” VOC voice of china…..

    the game is on comrade…..

    I just dropped this comment …..在中国。。。。。on


    at the same time…..

    welcome to the 中国上网chingblogosphere roman coliseum

    in real time…..

  18. King Tubby

    Actually, it was a pretty lo-fi driveby. Black Toyota (and not an Audi) and the perps used an airgun.

    Told my all-female and very personal protection unit (trained by Col. Gaffadi) to step down, and have now issued a DEFCON 3 notice.

    All over the local media though and providing ET with priceless publicity for its lecture tour.

    On a serious note, this will simply reconfirm decisions already made by The Royal Brisbane Hospital and The College of Surgeons.

    Nonethess, keep those donations rolling in. The girls have been pestering me for a stylish uniform makeover.

  19. King Tubby

    Im going on the record here, but first some background.

    When Mr Matas last spoke at forums at the Gold Coast in 2008 he said he and his volunteers were threatened by a Chinese government police official and booked venues were suddenly cancelled.

    Internet participants could ask questions at the forum and Mr Matas said the official asked in a Chinese language: “Are you afraid of death? You are brutally interfering in our party’s internal policies. Are you afraid of our revenge? Our revenge against you, we’ll take revenge against you, are you not afraid of that?”

    FG are pretty active here and Ive been bearded by them a couple of times when in the CBD.

    Obviously, local PRC officials have been actively attempting to obstruct their activities.

    BUT, this was so amateurish. Don’t be surprised if it turns out that a couple of younger FG fringe supporters hired a couple of local Vietnamese tearaways (who think and act as if they live in Compton) to do the deed.

  20. Some Guy

    Well, the videos are out.

    I guess now the Chinese netizens will reflect on their silly anti-Japanese prejudice, be embarrased at the loss of face caused by the race riots, realize that the pages and pages on Sina were all so many steaming piles of crap, and will from now on pressure their government to pursue a mutually beneficial relationship with Japan.

    …Ok who am I kidding. Prepare for 0.3 billion people to believe a “doctored video” conspiracy theory.

    • Jones

      Just watched it. Proud of the Japanese for being calm enough to not fire a warning shot. Although a little bit of close-range, high-powered water cannon action would have been a great show. Maybe some rubber bullets. I don’t know, something.