Second weekend of protests begins in China

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Second weekend of protests begins in China

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Defying government warnings against further demonstrations, as many as twenty-thousand Chinese protesters turned out for a second weekend of anti-Japan demonstrations in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Tianjin.

In Shanghai, a crowd broke many windows at the Japanese consulate, according to Kyodo News. The crowd also busted up a Japanese restaurant and set its sign on fire. The protesters then attacked a convenience store, according to the Los Angeles Times.

At the Japanese consulate, the crowd chanted “jia ru, jia ru” asking the police to “join us”. The police did not arrest the protesters, and stood by watching as the demonstration proceeded. The police permitted the protesters to throw eggs and rocks. Although the police provided at one point a sign which read “March route this way,” state-controlled media denied that the protesters had been given permission for their demonstration.

Southwest of Shanghai, in the city of Hangzhou, an estimated ten thousand protesters demonstrated against Japan, repeating recent demands for a boycott of Japanese products.

“Chinese people are angry,” student protester Michael Teng told Associated Press. “We will play along with Japan and smile nicely at them, but they have to know they have a large, angry neighbor,” Teng said.

In Beijing, Tiananmen Square was largely quiet as security tightened in anticipation of tomorrow’s visit by Japan’s foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura. Hundreds of police are guarding both Tiananmen Square and the Japanese embassy.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday seeking to reassure Japanese citizens and businesses operating in China.

“The Chinese government has attached great importance to the situation and has kept on urging the public to express their appeals in a calm, sane, law-abiding and orderly manner and to avoid extreme activities,” Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan said in a press release issued on Friday.

As the protests continued in China, Japan lodged a “strong protest” against China.

“We cannot but say that the security system in Shanghai is insufficient,” Machimura told reporters.

Despite the protests, Machimura announced that he is not cancelling plans to meet with China’s foreign minister Li Zhaoxing on Sunday to discuss Sino-Japanese relations.

“China has been increasing its regional economic and political influence,” Robert Broadfoot, managing director of Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. told Bloomberg from Hong Kong. “Japan doesn’t want to have its position in the region dictated by China. Japan is adopting a more assertive policy, and China is trying to block it,” Broadfoot said.

On Friday, the Japanese government warned its citizens in China to keep a low profile during the protests.

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