anti-japan riots in guangzhou (and everywhere else)

The anti-Japan bullshit that has been fomenting across China in the major cities, reached a peak over the weekend. Ostensibly due to Japan’s alleged unwillingness to apologise for atrocities in World War II, and inflamed by the recent revisionist school-books which all but gloss over the events, the behaviour of urban nationalists masks a much more aggressive and a rabid mentality.

I’ve been following the current anti-Japan hysteria for a while on a number of very well-informed and impartial sites, including EastSouthWestNorth, Danwei, China Herald, as well as some less impartial, along with the other concurrent China political issues of the Taiwan Anti-Secsession Bill, and the fiasco over Tung Chee-hwa resigning in Hong Kong and the eroding of the Basic Law, written about passionately by Glutter.

The press is all over this, with wildly divergent (by a factor of 10) figures of protesters ranging from 2000 to 20000 in Guangzhou, and similar discrepancies in other cities. Nevertheless, the fact that this has been brewing for months, and there have been sporadic less than peaceful demonstrations across China in recent weeks reflects very poorly on the government who are usually more than eager to use force out of all proportion in silencing any kind of dissent.

I’m not very impartial though. I have no respect for these people. They are nationalist, racist fools who belittle the events of the war through their ignorance, hypocrisy and thuggish mob-mentality. Their behaviour is out of all proportion to their appraisal of other worse events in recent Chinese history, like the genocide of the Great Leap Forward, or the Cultural Revolution, or earlier massacres by both foreign and internal forces. Irrespective of Japan’s behaviour and lack of an apology that satisfies China, these idiots are the best advertisement for total lobotomies. They also conveniently forget just how much of the ‘economic miracle’ rolling across China is bankrolled by the evil dwarves across the ocean.

On a national scale, 2000 or even 20000 is a small number. Compared to recent riots that have raged for days over all the genuine corruption, exploitation and desecration of a marginalised rural and urban-poor populace which have numbered in the tens of thousands, again the anti-Japan actions are maybe not so notable. But the western press likes nothing better than chewing over a meaty story that promulgates the vision of China as an emerging nationalist threat to the archipelagos of East Asia.

The sad thing is that right now, it seems both the western media meme and the Chinese government are in alignment, and at best the population of China is ignorant and mis-informed, at worst they are complicit and exhibiting a genuine racism and hatred that leads inexorably to the war they burn for. Oh, and if anyone I know was involved in this, I’m back in Guangzhou in 2 weeks and you know how much I love sushi.

punching on in the mainland

Within twenty-four hours of getting into guangzhou, I saw one almost riot at the train station between really pissed off taxi drivers and lunatic black-suit police with neanderthal crowd-control skills, one group punch-on at my favourite noodle shop over whether to sit inside or not, where a fist-sized piece of masonry almost became the deciding factor, and a dead old woman beggar beside the new Tian He Friendship Store. Welcome back.

Not that my anecdotal observations are worth the bandwidth the consume, but it seems really tense around here after being in Taipei. During my residency, I read many of the stories about large riots over small infractions, corruption, unwanted dams and other diverse triggers. The International Herald Tribune had a longish piece on all this recently, covering much of the recent noise.

Though it is experiencing one of the most spectacular economic expansions in history, China is having more trouble than at any time since the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989 maintaining social order. Police statistics show the number of public protests reached nearly 60,000 in 2003.

That is an average of 160 per day. That marks an increase of nearly 15 percent over 2002 and was eight times as high as the number recorded a decade ago. Martial law and paramilitary troops are commonly needed to restore order when the police lose control.

China does not have a Polish-style Solidarity movement. Protests may be so numerous in part because they are small, localized expressions of discontent over layoffs, land seizures, use of natural resources, ethnic tensions, misspent state funds, forced immigration, unpaid wages or police killings. They rarely last longer than a day or two.

Yet several mass protests, like the one in Wanzhou, show how people with different causes can seize an opportunity to press their grievances together.

— International Herald Tribune

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