More Chinese students held “anti-Japanese” protests in several cities—all far away from Beijing—last weekend, after tens of thousands had taken to the streets on the previous weekend. And while these protest marches were not as large, the focus at some of them has begun to shift from the disputed Diaoyu Islands toward China’s domestic problems.
After the large-scale protests during the middle of October, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily said that these were not spontaneous outpourings of common sentiments, but instead were organized by government-supported student organizations. Some predicted that this politically calculated move could get out of control and turn against the regime. In some areas this is exactly what has happened, and the regime is now doing everything it can, short of using violence, to prevent further protests.
Some small-scale anti-Japanese protests broke out in Lanzhou (Gansu Province) and Baoji (Shaanxi Province) on Oct. 24. However in the Baoji protest, some people were holding banners with slogans protesting high housing prices and corruption. Several hundred people, most of them young, participated in the Lanzhou protest. A small student gathering also took place in Nanjing (Jiangsu Province), the BBC said.
Japan’s Asahi TV showed footage from the Baoji protest: banners that read “Protest High Housing Costs” and “Brother Ying-jeou Mainland China Welcomes You,” referring to Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou. The report also said that local schools had been closed.
According to a report by Japanese JiJiPress, another protest of around a thousand people took place on Oct. 23 in southwest China’s Deyang City, and some of the participants clashed with police. Reporters from Japan and a few other media were also detained for “safety reasons.” Official Chinese media did not directly report on the matter.
After the large scale student protests on Oct. 17, 18, and 19, authorities in Baoji and other cities extended classes at schools through the weekend and guarded campus gates to prevent large numbers of students from leaving, and to prevent larger protests, the Associated Press reported. All Internet posts related to the protests have also been quickly deleted.
A student from Xi’an Jiaotong University who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that students leaving campus grounds need to show guards special purpose leave slips signed by a counselor, head teacher, or department authorities. “[School lockdown] does exist. Protests happened in Xi’an, so many schools are under lockdown,” he said. “It’s most serious in places like Xi’an and Zhengzhou."
Japan’s Kyodo News reported that over a thousand people in Deyang (Sichuan Province) also took to the streets on Oct. 23, and that authorities called it illegal as there was no permit issued.
On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 24, People’s Daily online, the regime’s official mouthpiece, published a signed commentary that called on the students to “express their patriotism rationally and in accordance with the law.” The article repeated the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman’s recent speech about “maintaining reform, development, and stability."
The uninhabited islands chain at the center of a bitter territorial dispute is called Diaoyu in Chinese, and Senkaku in Japanese.
Japanese magazine Aera, owned by the country’s second largest newspaper Asahi Shimbun, reported on Oct. 18 that China and Japan had signed a secret treaty while Junichiro Koizumi was prime minister. The treaty states that China will not allow any Diaoyu activists to sail to the area, and Japan will not detain any Chinese unless it develops into a case of grave concern.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry kept silent for two days and only denied the existence of the treaty on the third day. The regime, however, cannot deny the fact that it has not let any ship go out to defend the Diaoyu Islands for a long time.