Protests in China over the disputed Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku to the Japanese) have seen some protesters taking out their anger by smashing Japanese brand cars parked on the streets of Chinese cities.
An open letter by the purported owner of a Japanese car is now making the rounds on Chinese social media that manages to lambast the protestors, Americans, Germans, French and Koreans all at once. While the author does not exhibit the most balanced view of history, it does provide an interesting glimpse into another opinion on the Chinese streets, and how heavily history and past grievances still weigh on the modern Chinese worldview.
In the first half of 2012, more than 1.4 million Japanese brand cars were sold in China, according to Sina Auto, making up 22.3% of the total car market in China but down from 23.5% in 2010.
The original Chinese follows the translation below.
An Open Letter from An Owner of a Japanese Car to Car-Smashing “Patriots”
On August 19, 2012, an anti-Japanese protest to protect the Diaoyu Islands took place in several cities around China. Like everyone expected, Japanese cars are again the target of “patriots.” The “patriotic show” of smashing Japanese cars is again being played out in this year’s “patriotic protest,” like a menstrual period.
According to “patriots,” Japanese cars represent Japan, and smashing Japanese cars is smashing Japan, so it expresses your patriotism.
Actually, the most important thing is, it’s safe to do so. You understand very well that the act of smashing a Japanese car will never be prosecuted, just like you understand that participating in this kind of protest is risk free as well.
I, as the owner of a Japanese car, want to have a few words with you.
1. Why is buying a Japanese car considered selling out?
I’m an ordinary person. I work hard to make life better for my family and myself. I don’t want to talk about how hard life is because that’s not what this essay is about, but I think most of you will understand.
It’s not easy for me to make money, and my view on consumption is that if something suits me then it’s good. I think Japanese cars are suitable for family use, so I bought a Japanese car. Whether it’s good to use is my business.
I bought the car through legitimate means. I got it in a dealership store, which has all the approvals from government agencies, no different from other dealership stores selling American/German/Korean cars.
I paid taxes when I got the car. I paid vehicle consumption tax, traffic tax, infrastructure tax; also paid fuel tax and parking fees during my usage of the car.
The government gave me a license plate number after examining each step, including manufacturing, sales and purchase of the car.
So you tell me, I bought a car in China and passed the government approval process – When did I sell out my country? What did I sell out?
2. Why is buying a German/American/French/Korean car considered patriotic?
– America actually started the problem of the Diaoyu Islands. It besieges China, bombed our embassy, crashed into our fighter jet, and is the biggest impediment to China’s resurgence. So if you buy an American car, do you love America?
– Germany is one of the eight colonial powers that burned down Yuan Ming Yuan [a Qing dynasty imperial retreat famed for its beauty] and colonized Shandong province. It started world wars and killed Jewish people, and caused great harm to China and the world. So if you buy a German car, do you love Germany?
– France is also one of the eight colonial powers that burned down Yuan Ming Yuan. It colonized Vietnam and attacked Zhennan Pass. Their leaders meet with the Dalai Lama, interfere with our internal affairs. The protests against Carrefour are quite recent. So if you buy a French car, do you love France?
– Korea is our enemy on the Korean Peninsula. They steal Chinese culture and claim northeastern China and the Changbai Mountain are theirs, and detained a Chinese fishing captain. So if you buy a Korean car, do you love Korea?
A domestic car? If you open the hood, all you see are Mitsubishi engines. Of course can’t get those!
Actually it doesn’t matter what country the brand of car is from, but the people in the car – cars never drive drunk or hit and run, but people do. Cars don’t kill people, but people do. Cars don’t sell out countries, but people do.
I’m an ordinary person. I love this land and my compatriots and I don’t understand your patriotic dogmas.
I only know that loving my country is loving my family, be good to be neighbors, friends and everyone I meet, including my fellow citizens.
I only know that loving my country is to protect the legitimate rights of myself and others, and not to be an ostrich when such rights are infringed, for example I would shout out when I see a thief.
I only know that loving my country means that having the courage to bleed for it or even die for it when disaster strikes this land.
After the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, my Japanese car went to the affected areas with RMB6,000 worth of medicine. At the disaster zone many soldiers and police performed rescues with Japanese cars, and many owners of Japanese cars donated money and blood to the victims. Owners of German/American/French/Korean cars did the same. At the time, we are not owners of a foreign car, but compatriots linked by flesh and blood, shedding tears, sweat and blood together.
But you, the “patriots,” you say you love the country but you are doing what the Japanese did. When the Japanese harm Chinese people, you are also harming Chinese people. The only difference being one is on the Diaoyu Island but another inside China. And what makes you worse than the Japanese is that you harm Chinese people whenever you protest against the Japanese, and that has never changed.
I don’t know a person who does not love his compatriots and treat them well can love his country.
4. Your criminal actions must be punished.
According to Criminal Law of the PRC, intentional destruction of property can be sentenced to three years in prison, and up to 7 years in prison for egregious cases.
Reports say that some protesters were arrested. I believe the government will punish your criminal actions.
But I, as owner of a Japanese car, will keep a steering wheel lock with me from this day forth to protect my rightful property. When I see mobsters smashing Japanese cars, I would hit them if they are in the act, no matter if the victim is me or others.
I would make them understand the meaning of courage and patriotism — Protecting the legitimate rights of oneself and others is courage and patriotism!
[The Chinese original follows below]