Tensions between Japan and China have been growing without getting much notice here in the U.S., but this Associated Press report on demonstrations yesterday in China, datelined Shanghai, is fascinating:
Chanting “Japanese pigs get out,” protesters here threw stones and broke windows at Japan’s consulate and Japanese restaurants as tens of thousands of people defied government warnings and staged demonstrations Saturday against Tokyo’s bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat.
In Shanghai, as many as 20,000 protesters gathered around the Japanese Consulate. Police in riot helmets kept them away from the building but let protesters throw eggs and rocks. A group of young men broke the windows of a Nissan sedan and flipped it onto its roof.
In a nearby street, protesters broke windows of about 10 Japanese-style noodle shops and bars, many of them Chinese-owned. Others broke the windows of a police car, chanting “Kill the Japanese” after a rumor spread that a man sitting inside was Japanese. The car drove away before the crowd could grab him.
In the photo below, a protestor throws a rock at the Japanese consulate in Shanghai:
It seems doubtful whether demonstrations of this type could take place without at least the tacit permission of Chinese authorities, a supposition that is supported by a sign in Shanhai, reportedly posted by police, that said “March route this way.” A number of Japanese companies have cancelled scheduled business trips to China, citing danger to their employees.
What’s it all about? The AP cites Chinese opposition to a proposal to give Japan a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, and thus veto power over U.N. actions (which China already has). Maybe, but it seems more likely to me that the context of the Chinese government’s apparent effort to whip up anti-Japanese sentiment is China’s own burgeoning military power, and its effort to be the dominant military force in the region.
UPDATE: For a Chinese perspective, see the People’s Daily. This story is headlined “China takes various measures to protect security of Japanese agencies, citizens.” A Chinese spokesman linked the issuance of non-repentant Japanese textbooks, commonly cited as a cause of the demonstrations in China, to the question of Japanese power in the U.N.: “The Chinese people really can’t understand how a nation which cannot honestly look at its aggressive history and which cannot correctly understand the feelings of the people of the countries it victimized could be qualified to bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.”
The People’s Daily also has an article on violence against diplomatic facilities, only it’s the Chinese outposts in Japan:
The Chinese embassy in Japan has lodged a protest to the Japanese government, after the embassy and the consulate had been harassed over the past week.
The residence of the Chinese ambassador to Japan located at Tokyo’s Minato Ward was molested late Friday, with its doorplate, mailbox and interphone sprayed with red paint.
ONE MORE UPDATE: InstaPundit has a report, with photos, from a reader in Shanghai.