China: Anti-Japan demonstrations erupt in three cities

Large anti-Japan demonstrations took place Saturday afternoon in the cities of Xi'an, Chengdu and Zhengzhou; reportedly organized by university groups over the Internet through QQ and other social networking sites [zh], the protests have taken many [zh] by surprise. They come on the same day as an anti-Chinese protest was held in Tokyo, photos from which can be seen here.

[Update: China Media Project‘s David Bandurski has posted on the protests here. See update 2 below]

A large number of photos and tweets have come out of the protests, yet explanation as to what spurred them remains to be seen, however a Xinhua report that came out soon after protests began references the recent flare-up of the ongoing dispute between the two countries over the Diaoyu islands. Despite having apparently been organized online, few blog posts regarding the motivation behind the demonstrations can currently be found, and even posts about related posts being deleted are being deleted.

Anybody know what sparked today's protests?

From Twitter around 5pm today, in Chengdu:

@carlwang87: 春熙路的伊藤的玻璃被砸了,要不是警察围着,可能伊藤里面都被砸了

The glass outside the Ito Yokado department store on Chunxi Road has been smashed. If not for the police standing around, the inside of Ito Yokado might have been smashed up too.

@carlwang87: 哎,游行的人看着就像混混似的,俺拿的索尼照的呢,当时怕怕

Yikes, the demonstrators look like they're about to riot, I took this with my Sony, was scared to take the picture.

@carlwang87: 就是成都香槟广场这,除了一个料理店被砸,还有一个打日本牌子的餐馆被砸,游行的起点也是这 他们转了一圈,回来把这砸了

Here at Chengdu's Champagne Plaza, aside from a sushi restaurant that got smashed, another restaurant with a Japanese sign got smashed up, this is also where the demonstration started off, they did a big circle and came back here and started smashing.

@carlwang: 伊藤门口被警察围着,但是玻璃还是被人用东西砸了

The entrance to Ito Yokado is surrounded by police, but people are still using things to smash the glass.

@carlwang87: 香槟广场人山人海,就是上面三楼一个日本料理被砸,二楼一个日本餐馆也被砸

A sea of people outside Champagne Plaza, this is the Japanese sushi restaurant on the third floor that got smashed up. A Japanese restaurant on the second floor got smashed up too.

Twitter user Henry Hu, who has uploaded to Flickr a large number of photos from the Chengdu protest, has tweeted a statement from the Chengdu city government which says that students from all major universities in the city were part of the protest. Among Hu's photos is one reportedly from the scene of the Zhengzhou protest:

From Xi'an, just between 5 and 6 pm:

@inxian: [西安散步]17点前后,钟楼附近的交通部分恢复了。最后一拨人马也开始沿南大街和西大街折返了。

[Xi'an March] Around 5pm, traffic started flowing again around the bell tower. The last group has also begun moving down Nandajie, back toward Xidajie.

@inxian: [西安散步]悲剧了!正要和平撤退的时候!钟楼饭店下的mizuno专卖店遭到袭击!钢化玻璃门被砸坏!有物品被焚烧!围观群众一片欢呼、鼓掌,并高喊抵制日货等口号。

[Xi'an March] Tragic! Just when people were about to disperse peacefully, the Mizuno shop at the bell tower got attacked! Even the reinforced glass door got smashed. People were burning things! The crowd gathered and started chanting, clapping, shouting slogans to boycott Japanese goods.

@inxian: [西安散步]不只mizuno,tonywear,tonyjeans也遭殃了!他们高喊着抵制日货…

[Xi'an March] Not only Mizuno, buy Tony Wear and Tony Jeans got hit too! They're shouting for a boycott of Japanese goods…

@inxian: [西安散步]里面的衣物被拉出,高高抛起…四处乱扔。然后焚烧!他们围着火堆,高唱的是国歌。然后鼓掌…

[Xi'an March] The clothes inside have been pulled out, thrown around, it's a big mess. Then they started burning it! They made a big pile and gathered around, loudly singing the national anthem. And applauding…

@inxian: [西安散步]西安钟楼附近现在重新集结了至少2万人。多名网友向inxian短信说:西安目前到处都是学生,到处拥挤堵塞!

[Xi'an March] About 20,000 people have regrouped at the Xi'an bell tower. A number of netizens have sent me text messages: there are university students everyone across Xi'an now, blocking traffic everywhere!

@inxian: [西安散步]17点50分前后。这次人群是彻底散开了,因为防暴警察在后面催逼着。没有一辆公交车能看到钟楼附近,很多人都只好步行回家。

[Xi'an March] It's about 5:50pm. The crowd now has completely dispersed, because the riot police got behind them and forced them out. Not a single bus can get anywhere near the bell tower now, a lot of people are just walking home.

A photo on this BBS post shows two police cars leading the Xi'an demonstration:

See here for the latest Tweets regarding today's demonstrations.

update 2
Another anti-Japan protests took place on Sunday in Mianyang, in Sichuan province; Twitter user @kajisan has uploaded several photos:

And YouTube user luofeng0202 has uploaded video:

On Monday afternoon, yet another protest took place in Wuhan, in Hubei province. Among those live-tweeting it are Zhou Jian and @hugh19871210 who put the number of protesters in the low hundreds and police at over a thousand.


  • […] 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 […]

  • Sadly, they just hate each others for the IIWW invasion/occupation which means war. And what is worse is that nor China neither Japan teach in their history textbooks the truth about their history. That’s the reason why, instead of promoting friendship between neiborough they spread bad feelings among their own people. As a consequence, any excuse turns into demostrations. However,if people were aware of their human rights they would demonstrate for more significant reasons.

    • oscarshu

      what you said is exact what I think! there are many significant reason to demonstrate for Chinese people, but the gov crack down these demonstration. this one is permitted by the gov on purpose to transfer people’s attention on internal stress and sadly most protesters don’t realize that and become the puppet.

    • zhuzidi

      People just THINK we don’t teach the truth. In China, stuff about the civil war are admittedly pro-Communist, but the facts are still there. In Japan, every single textbook used teaches about WW2 atrocities. The complaints were about a revisionist book that turned out to be used in like 3 schools.

  • 123

    I’d like to ask, how did a minor incident regarding the Diaoyu Islands turn into a bitter feud about what happened during World War II? This is not only preposterous, but also childish, and besides, the argument is totally not focussed on the issue currently at hand – the Diaoyu Islands. I have read some interesting articles on this issue and have watched the news, and while I admit that both sides have some points, the way that they are going on about this is not the right way to go.

    It is unfair that arguments about what happened six decades ago should be resurrected in today’s society and age. Sometimes I wonder if governments are fit to govern at all, if they are not willing and able to let go of the things that had happened in the past.

  • Gabe

    I think the reasons for the demonstrations are a little more complicated than simply just lingering anti-Japan feelings from the invasion and atrocities committed by Japan before and during the official start of World War Two. The government has in fact stoked anti-Japanese sentiment for some time, realizing that nationalism is one of the few forces keeping Chinese (at least Han Chinese) together ideologically, in light of the breakdown of confidence in Marxist/Leninist/Maoist ideology since reform and opening. The paradox is that while the government promotes keeping nationalism alive, it doesn’t want that same nationalism to get out of control and lead to open riots that could lead to instability. China is in a precarious spot right now, given that the only things keeping people vested in the system are either (at times irrational) nationalistic feelings or material wealth, not things like belief in the justice of the system.
    While the dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands likely has more to do with potential oil and gas reserves in the area, it is an interesting coincidence that protests are happening (that is, being allowed to happen) very close to a time when Norway has given the Nobel peace prize to prominent human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Many of the protests were after all organized on social networking sites like QQ, sites which the government has been willing to restrict (see Facebook, Twitter) if deemed a dangerous tool that could be used by activists. Who knows how far the government is willing to let protests go if they are considered a useful distraction from China’s other problems?

  • Gabe

    October 18 is also the 79th anniversary of the Mukden Incident, also known as the Manchurian Incident, in which it was later found out that members of the Japanese military staged the blowing up of railroad tracks in occupied territory in Manchuria. They used this as the pretext for expanding their presence in China and so is often viewed as the beginning of the Sino-Japanese war, which became part of the larger World War II. This date might have been part of the impetus for the protests as well.

  • dyt0407

    It is not October 18, but September 18.

  • shig123

    This is a shame. Both countries have a lot in common and could do a fair bit of good together. The end result may well be a hardening of positions between the two, more US involvement and hardening of the ring around China. Look too for a bit more action by the Japanese to move manufacturing and assembly from China to other countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and India. In fact the latter has already started, but new moves to Thailand were just announced this week.

  • […] detention of a Chinese fishing captain. In China, the first battle was a war of words, followed by anti-Japanese demonstrations in major cities, followed then by the restriction on exports of rare […]

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