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Anti-Japan Protests in China Turn Violent, Cooler Heads Prevail Online

Protestors surround Jusco in Qingdao

On Saturday protestors in dozens of Chinese cities took to the streets to voice their anger at the Japanese government’s nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku Islands in Japanese) in the East China Sea as a flagrant violation of Chinese sovereignty.

In Beijing, thousands of protestors besieged the Japanese embassy, hurling eggs, bottles and anything else at hand – sometimes hitting unfortunate reporters stationed nearby – and tried to storm the barricades manned by hundreds of riot police. The unrest was apparently too unsettling for censors, who have made “Japanese embassy” a banned search term on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform.

Reports also poured in of attacks in several cities against Japanese nationals – including one person who was had ramen poured on him, another who had his eyeglasses broken and tourists who had bottles thrown at them – and vandalism of Japanese cars and restaurants and stores selling Japanese food and goods. One owner of a Japanese car even reportedly set his own car on fire in protest.

The aftermath at Jusco

In Huangdao (黄岛), a commercial development district near the seaside city of Qingdao, a massive crowd (pictured up top) smashed their way into the local Jusco, a large Japanese department store, leaving heaps of wreckage in their wake.

@记者刘虎, a reporter in Guangzhou, tweets, “Today, the Mitsubishi elevator factory in Qingdao was set on fire, the Heiwado [a Japanese department store chain] in Changsha was broken into, the vandalism and rioting is so severe in Xi’an that many residents are scared to go out. Many cities are in a state of chaos. Is this any different from the Boxers and the Red Guards? Many cities are in chaos. The thugs have just changed their clothes…Why does history keep repeating itself? Where is the government’s ability to enforce the law?” {{1}}[[1]]今天,青岛三菱电梯厂被烧,长沙平和堂被抢,西安的打砸抢烧严重到许多市民不敢出门的地步,……许多城市陷入混乱。这跟义和团、红卫兵相比有何区别?暴徒不过是换了一身衣服。历史为何一再重演?政府的执政能力体现在哪里?[[1]]

Netizens on Chinese social media, while being almost unanimously against the Japanese government’s action and calling for Japan to respect China’s sovereignty, also for the most part condemned the vandalism and the violence against Japanese nationals.

He Jiong (@何炅), a celebrity TV personality, in a tweet that received over 200,000 mostly supportive comments and retweets, wrote, “Patriotism is a very noble word. For those compatriots who smash cars, who eat at Japanese restaurants then curse and don’t pay, who assault foreigners for no reason in front of their homes, don’t degrade the word patriotism! The [Diaoyu] island is definitely ours, but the dignity of our country is also in our hands!” {{2}}[[2]]爱国这个词很高尚,那些砸同胞车,在日料店吃饱了骂骂咧咧逃单,在自家门口无缘无故打老外的,别侮辱爱国这词!岛一定是我们的,可是实实在在的尊严,也在你和我的手里![[2]]

How to protect your Nikon on Chinese streets

@徐静波微博 agrees that “those who don’t know how to respect others will not gain others’ respect. I’m strongly opposed to any attacks on ordinary Japanese people. Chinese people can’t promote an image of being hooligans in international society!” {{3}}[[3]]不会尊重别人,也将得不到别人的尊重。坚决反对任何袭击普通日本民众的行为,中国人不能在国际社会塑造“流氓形象”![[3]]

@潘軼彪 tweets,”Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. I certainly don’t hope to have a bowl of hot ramen poured on me when I walk on Japan’s streets. No one has been given the right to exact this type of revenge.” {{4}}[[4]]将心比心,我也不希望自己走在日本的街上被人泼一碗滚烫的拉面。况且谁都没有被赋予这种报复的权利[[4]]

@反裤衩阵地 reports that some ‘protestors’ may be taking advantage of the situation to get a free lunch: “I just spoke with the manager of a Japanese restaurant, an authentic Beijinger, who reported ‘After a group of customers finished eating they suddenly pulled out Chinese flags and started shouting slogans! After they caused a scene, they didn’t pay the bill and just ran off! Who ARE these people!!!!’” {{5}}[[5]]刚和被打砸了的日式烧肉店负责人—一个地道北京男孩儿通了话,问他店里没事儿吧。他说:"就是一帮人在店里吃完饭突然就举起国旗叫嚣喊起口号来!闹事儿以后直接没买单就跑了!"——这他妈都什么人啊!!!![[5]]

Ning Caishen (@宁财神), a screenwriter in Shanghai, is even encouraging netizens to “collect the pictures of these violent thugs along with the time and location of their crimes. There’s too much deletion [on this topic] today. Wait a few days then put those pictures up and make sure the police enforce the law. In a society ruled by law those who break the law must pay the price.” {{6}}[[6]]请大家搜集暴徒的照片,作案时间和地点,今天删的太厉害,改天等事儿过去了,一张一张贴出来,督促当地警方法办。法治社会,犯罪份子必须付出代价[[6]]

@陆小巍kenny tweets from Japan to reassure family and friends in China concerned for his safety, “Thanks for everyone’s concern for me. I’m fine here, very safe! At least when I walk on the streets of Tokyo, I won’t get attacked for no reason, and no one’s going to pour ramen on me. When I go to a restaurant, I won’t see a sign saying ‘No Chinese Allowed’ and I certainly won’t see crowds of people smashing up Chinese restaurants! It’s life as usual in Japan..everything is the same!” {{7}}[[7]]最近真的谢谢各位亲朋友好友对我的关心,我在这里很好,很安全!至少我走在东京的街头,不会莫名其妙的被人袭击,也不会被人泼拉面,去店里吃饭,不会看到有[禁止中国人入内]的标语,更不会在街头在看中华料理店被一大帮人砸店砸玻璃!我以前的日子是怎么样现在还是怎么样。。一切都没有任何变化!![[7]]

For the tens of thousands of Japanese nationals living in China, it may be some time before it’s back to life as usual.

This article also appeared on the Atlantic, a Tea Leaf Nation partner site.

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