Chinese march over Japan’s war ‘whitewash’

The weekend government-sponsored outings in China made it into the Australian papers yesterday, as Chinese diplomats act like schoolyard hillbillies and Japan shows them up and wipes the floor with their seriously practised diplomatic skills. Lots of photos from all over the place (taken on Japanese cameras too), including this one which is supposed to be Tianhe in Guangzhou.

Now Tianhe on a weekend is like a kleptomanic shoppers convention. It’s fucking crazy. These Computer City buildings are wall-to-wall ’emerging-middle-class’ hell-bent on simultaneously lightening their wallets and boosting their status. So whatever the official figure was for this particular protest, immediately knock off half coz that’s who would be there anyway, and then another third for the rent-a-gawk-crowd who seem to spontaneously materialise whenever a cab-driver wipes out a delivery tricycle. So the only people who were really there for the protest were the army slouches on the bridge.

Maybe not, but it’s not as though this particular strip of Guangzhou is deserted like a slowly rotting ghost-town on any day of the week. Walking on the road here is as common as driving on the footpath.

Two days of hostile demonstrations in China against Japan have widened the rift between the countries, at odds over Japan’s whitewashing of wartime atrocities and its bid to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Thousands of people marched yesterday in the southern city of Guangzhou to protest outside the Japanese consulate-general, as Chinese officials pleaded with demonstrators to express themselves in a “calm and sane” manner. Thousands also marched in nearby Shenzhen.

In Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura yesterday summoned China’s ambassador, Wang Yi, to deliver an official protest at Chinese police allowing protesters to hurl rocks, bottles and eggs at the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday.

Ambassador Wang emerged after 30 minutes of talks to say that Beijing did not condone the violence. “The (Chinese) Government does not agree with extreme action,” Mr Wang said.

— The Age

Chinese march over Japan’s war ‘whitewash’

By Hamish McDonald

China correspondent

Beijing

April 11, 2005

Two days of hostile demonstrations in China against Japan have widened the rift between the countries, at odds over Japan’s whitewashing of wartime atrocities and its bid to gain a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Thousands of people marched yesterday in the southern city of Guangzhou to protest outside the Japanese consulate-general, as Chinese officials pleaded with demonstrators to express themselves in a “calm and sane” manner. Thousands also marched in nearby Shenzhen.

In Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura yesterday summoned China’s ambassador, Wang Yi, to deliver an official protest at Chinese police allowing protesters to hurl rocks, bottles and eggs at the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday.

Ambassador Wang emerged after 30 minutes of talks to say that Beijing did not condone the violence. “The (Chinese) Government does not agree with extreme action,” Mr Wang said.

The widening rift between the two Asian economic giants and historic strategic rivals will be discussed when Mr Machimura visits Beijing next Monday, a day before Australian Prime Minister John Howard begins a visit to both countries.

Many Chinese have been incensed by the latest batch of school history textbooks approved last week by the Japanese Ministry of Education which give even more cursory treatment of wartime atrocities in China that previous ones.

“Japan doesn’t face up to its history,” said Cheng Lei, a 27-year-old information technology professional who marched in Beijing on Saturday. “We want to express our feelings so the Japanese Government knows what we think.”

The textbook issue has inflamed a rising anti-Japanese sentiment in China over the disputed Diaoyutai or Senkaku islands, visits by Japanese politicians to the controversial Yasukuni shrine to Japan’s war dead, and efforts by Japanese conservatives to amend constitutional bars on overseas military deployments.

In the past two weeks, more than 27 million people have signed petitions on leading Chinese internet portals opposing Japan’s push to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

In the Beijing protest, up to 20,000 students and mostly young, well-dressed professionals assembled in a university district close to an electronics retail area where many Japanese high-tech products are sold and marched into the main diplomatic district in central Beijing. Mostly it was peaceful, if heated.

Many hundreds pushed past cordons of police and paramilitary troops in riot gear to shout slogans at the Japanese embassy. Some hurled glass and plastic water bottles.

The Chinese leadership is caught between wanting to block Japan’s feared re-emergence as an assertive East Asian power and wanting to encourage Japanese trade and investment.

In recent days, senior Government ministers have told visiting Japanese business delegations that they are still welcome and their security will be assured.