Anti-Japan protests erupt in China over islands row
BEIJING (Reuters) - Thousands of Chinese besieged the Japanese embassy in Beijing yesterday, hurling rocks, eggs and bottles, and protests broke out in other Chinese cities in an angry dispute over a group of remote islands.
Paramilitary police with shields and batons barricaded the embassy, holding back and sometimes fighting with slogan-chanting, flag-waving protesters who at times appeared to be trying to storm the building.
“Return our islands! Japanese devils get out!” some shouted. One held up a sign reading: “For the respect of the motherland, we must go to war with Japan.”
Protester Liu Gang, a migrant worker from the southern region of Guangxi, said: “We hate Japan. We’ve always hated Japan. Japan invaded China and killed a lot of Chinese. We will never forget.”
By early evening, police had succeeded in persuading some people to leave. Rings of anti-riot police stood guard in front of the embassy, apparently readying for a long night.
“I think it’s time for the Chinese government to get tougher. Look at what the ordinary people feel. The government should respond,” said a man who gave his family name as Xue.
“I don’t mean war, but tougher action like sanctions. You can see how much Japan depends on our economy. Then don’t sell them any rare earths,” he said, referring to elements mined in China which are vital to defence, electronics and renewable-energy technologies.
Japan said its foreign minister had cut short a visit to Australia and flown back to Tokyo.
The long-standing territorial dispute escalated dramatically on Friday when China sent six surveillance ships to a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, raising tension between the two countries to its highest level since 2010.
It was responding to Japan’s decision on Tuesday to buy the islands, which Tokyo calls the Senkaku and Beijing calls the Diaoyu, from a private Japanese owner after Chinese warnings not to.
Sino-Japanese ties have long been plagued by China’s bitter memories of Japan’s military aggression in the 1930s and 1940s and present rivalry over resources – the islands are believed to be surrounded by energy-rich waters.