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2010年10月20日 (水)

反日デモ拡大 中国指導部は沈静化を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 19, 2010)
Chinese leaders must calm anti-Japan rallies
反日デモ拡大 中国指導部は沈静化を急げ(10月19日付・読売社説)

Even as official Japan-China relations have been improving, a string of large anti-Japan demonstrations have been taking place in inland Chinese cities such as Chengdu, Xian and Wuhan.

Involving thousands to tens of thousands of people, the demonstrations began at the end of last week over the September incident involving the collision of a Chinese fishing boat and Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels off the Senkaku Islands.

University students joined the demonstrations, responding to cell-phone text messages urging them to protest, and some ordinary citizens followed them.

Some demonstrators became violent and attacked Japanese supermarkets and restaurants, breaking their windows. Rioters also burned Japanese national flags, turned over Japanese automobiles and left streets in shambles.

Similar demonstrations seem to be spreading to other cities in China. They are a serious concern for Japan-China relations.

Chinese authorities must use every means at their disposal to stop demonstrations from turning into riots, protect the safety of Japanese residents and avoid any disruption to the operations of Japanese companies in the country.


Chinese youth frustrated

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "It is understandable that some people expressed their outrage against the recent erroneous words and deeds on the Japanese side." This stance sounds as if Beijing is encouraging illegal acts.

University students living in inland regions of China have been suffering from a serious hiring slump. Economic disparities are also spreading between urban and rural regions of the country.

In addition to these factors of social instability, young people born from 1980 on have been taught anti-Japanese propaganda to stir their patriotic and nationalistic sentiment, education that was strengthened under the government of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
Any little catalyst can prompt them to anti-Japan action.

The international community is paying even more attention to the democratization of China, especially since imprisoned activist Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are apparently most afraid that young people's frustrations, which are now taking the form of anti-Japan protests, could transform into antigovernment movements demanding democracy.

That is why some observers suspect Chinese security authorities are maneuvering anti-Japan demonstrations to alleviate young people's discontent.


Chinese leaders tested

The latest demonstrations happened during the plenary meeting of the party's Central Committee. Some observers have even said that it is difficult to rule out the possibility that the military and the conservative wing of the party, which are profoundly wary of Japan, have staged the demonstrations to pressure party leaders so they will not readily make concessions to Tokyo over the Senkaku incident.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping was elected vice chairman of the party's Central Military Commission at the committee's plenary meeting. This makes Xi certain to succeed party General Secretary Hu Jintao at the party's congress in autumn of 2012. We believe Xi needs to realize the significance of China's relations with Japan.

Early this month, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao confirmed in Brussels that they would promote a strategic, mutually beneficial relationship between their countries. However, if anti-Japan demonstrations continue to happen frequently in China, efforts to mend bilateral relations might fail. Chinese leaders' stance on the matter is being tested.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 19, 2010)
(2010年10月19日01時30分  読売新聞)


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