Violent protest inflames China-Japan relations16/04/2005 - 08:43:53
Anti-Japanese protesters smashed windows and damaged the signs of Japanese-style noodle shops and bars in Shanghai’s central shopping district today.
The protesters damaged about 10 restaurants and bars that serve Japanese patrons on Huaihai Road, a major shopping street in the Chinese business capital. The crowd targeted businesses with Japanese lettering on signs, even though many are Chinese-owned.
The vandalism occurred during a march by about 5,000 people protesting Tokyo’s wartime history and its campaign for a permanent UN Security Council seat.
The protest came despite government warnings against threatening social order and relations with Tokyo.
The group sang the national anthem and waved leaflets saying “Boycott Japanese Goods” as they set out from People’s Square, the city’s central plaza in front of City Hall, marching west in the direction of the consulate.
Several hundred police watched the marchers but didn’t try to stop them, despite warnings this week against taking part in unauthorised protests. Officers didn’t answer when asked whether the marchers had received official permission.
In Beijing, hundreds of police stood guard on Tiananmen Square, where activists also had called for protests. Police stopped people apparently at random to question them and search their bags.
The third weekend of anti-Japanese protests came despite government appeals to the public to trust the Communist Party to handle relations with Tokyo.
Some have suggested that Beijing was trying to use the earlier unrest to Tokyo’s bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat.
Japan’s foreign minister was preparing to fly to Beijing for talks aimed at defusing the tensions.
Relations between Beijing and Tokyo have plunged to their lowest point in decades prompted by disputes over the Security Council, natural gas resources in disputed seas and new Japanese textbooks that critics say minimise Japan’s wartime offences.
Beijing is alarmed at a proposal to give Japan a permanent Security Council seat. Such status carries veto power over UN actions and is now held by only five governments – China, the US, Britain, France and Russia.
Last weekend’s protests appear to have started with grass-roots nationalist groups, but the Chinese leadership probably decided to let them continue in an effort to derail Tokyo’s bid, said Murray Scot Tanner, a China specialist at the Rand Corp. in Washington.
Premier Wen Jiabao cited the protests on Wednesday when he said during a visit to India that Tokyo wasn’t ready for a Security Council seat until it faced up to its history of aggression.
more stories like this:
- once per day, no spam.