September 16, 2012, Beijing — Sporadic protests in China against Japan's control of the Diaoyu Islands, which is called Sinkaku in Japan, over the past week became larger and at times violent and spread to at least 85 cities over the weekend, marking the largest anti-Japan protests since the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1972.
The protests emerged in response to online calls to boycott Japanese goods and stage demonstrations in at least 50 cities on last weekend after Japan on September 11 Tuesday bought Diaoyu Islands from the so-called Japanese private owner, a move having caused fierce protest and condemnation from Chinese government and Taiwan.
As some Japanese factories, stores and restaurants were reportedly vandalized Saturday, Chinese police tightened security around the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, Japanese consulates, and Japanese business facilities in Shanghai, Guangzhou and other major cities. In the meantime, authorities and Chinese state media have beefed up propaganda rhetorics and calls for "rational patriotism" and warned all those participate in violence, rioting will be severely punished.
Anti-Japanese sentiment, never far from the surface in China, has been building for weeks, touched off by moves by Tokyo and fanned by a furious campaign in Chinese media. Passions grew more heated this past week after the Japanese government purchased the contested East China Sea islands from their private Japanese owners which China does not recognize.
Japan’s Kyodo News agency said more than 60,000 people protested on Saturday in at least 28 Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chongqing, Qingdao, Changsha, etc., making the anti-Japanese demonstrations the largest since the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1972. The protests continued and spread to more Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Harbin, Shenzhen, Chengdu and some small ones such as Xiangyang in Hubei, Shangqiu in Henan Sunday. Chinese Authorities estimated at least 80,000 protesters participated in the anti-Japanese protests in at least 85 cities.
The uninhabited islands in East China Sea, 200 miles north of Taiwan and 2000 miles away from Tokyo, called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese are traditional fishing field for the Chinese living in Taiwan and mainland China for centuries. But they have been controlled by Japan since Japan defeated then Qing Dynasty and occupied Taiwan together with the small Diaoyu Islands.
Tensions have been growing for months over the East China Sea islands, since a right-wing nationalist Japanese politician vowed to buy them from their private owners to solve the Diaoyu Islands dispute once for ever. When the Japanese government purchased the islands last week, Chinese people saw the purchase by Japanese government as an affront to its claim and as further proof of Tokyo’s refusal to negotiate over them.
Beijing made angry protests and tried to bolster its claim by briefly sending marine surveillance ships into what Japan says are its territorial waters around the islands. After warned by Japanese coast guards, the Chinese surveillance ships went away from the waters off Diaoyu Islands, which cause disappointment among Chinese public who think the government is too soft on Japan over the territory.