Anti-Japanese protests took place in Southern China this weekend calling for a boycott of Japanese goods. Protesters in Guangdong province held banners saying “Stop Buying Japanese Goods” and chanting “down with Japanese imperialism”. In a few instances stores selling Japanese products were vandalized and protesters overturned at least one Japanese-manufactured police car.
During the protests, the Japanese ambassador had his car attacked, the national flag it was carrying, torn off. The ambassador was unharmed and no arrests have been made.
The protest was sparked by a territorial conflict between Japan and China over the Diaoyu islands, known as the Senkaku islands in Japan. Japan currently has control over the islands but China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan all claim them as part of China. Last weekend some Japanese nationals landed on the islands and waved Japanese flags, similar to what Chinese activists had done a few weeks prior. Last weekend state sanctioned protests erupted in China over the move but were tightly controlled.
State-run Chinese media reported the number of protesters as being in the hundreds. However, photos circulated on social media sites challenge those estimates. In the past these protests have always been tightly regulated by the state and these were no different. When protesters tried to march towards the city government’s headquarters riot police stopped them, forcing them to go around the building.
One participant in the protest shared the experience of a friend.
"At first nothing happened. Then someone used an object to hit his (my friend's) head and he bled."
Her experience is not unique however. Police are quick to use violence to quell any protest that might turn against the Chinese government. Protesting is usually not allowed in China. The CCP tries to maintain a veneer of social stability, which could be threatened if protests get out of hand.
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