China moves to quell anti-Japanese demonstrations
The Chinese government is reigning in the sometimes violent protests against Japanese businesses, amidst rising anti-Japanese sentiment over a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea.
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Authorities, however, are walking a tightrope between allowing citizens to vent and losing control of the protests, which could then turn against the government.Skip to next paragraph
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By Monday, authorities were clamping down.
In the western city of Xi'an, police issued an order banning large-scale protests in commercial areas, districts with large populations, and anywhere near government offices. The statement also warned that the use of mobile texting or online messaging to organize illegal demonstrations was forbidden.
In the southern city of Guangzhou, police said they arrested seven people for attacking cars and three for vandalizing shops.
"The Guangzhou police would like to remind the public to be rational while being patriotic. Demonstrations must proceed according to law," police said in a statement.
Police in the eastern port of Qingdao, where protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership, also reported arrests.
Authorities also tried to rein in online sentiment, with searches for posts or images related to the demonstrations met with an error message on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging site. Users who posted related content saw their material deleted by censors.
The tightened security follows demands from Japan that China ensure the safety of Japanese citizens and businesses. Japanese media have reported at least six incidents of Japanese citizens being attacked.
About 60 people protested Monday outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, far outnumbered by around 1,000 security personnel.
However, the end of the annual East China Sea fishing ban could raise new frictions. Thousands of fishing boats left ports on Sunday, many of them headed for waters near the disputed islands.
Protests were expected Tuesday in a number of cities to mark the anniversary of the Mukden Incident, the bombing of a railway in northeastern China in 1931 that was staged by Japan for a pretext to invade.
Meanwhile, state media moved to temper its rhetoric.
On Monday, the Beijing Morning Post, the Global Times and other state newspapers warned against irrational displays of patriotism and violence.
"Violent protests should never be condoned," the Global Times said in an online commentary. "Violence can only weaken the current campaign against Japan."