Being anti-Japan is in. On September 11, the Japanese government announced plans to buy the Diaoyu Islands, which China claims as its own. Since then, anti-Japan moon cakes saying, “Bite little Japan to death”, are on sale for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival, and those shouting “Diaoyu Islands belong to China’’ get a 10 per cent discount at certain restaurants and stores in small cities. The discount goes up to 20 per cent if the slogan is changed to “Japan belongs to China.”
Visitors to the Nanjing Autumn Real Estate Trade Fair found more to gawk at than building models — a “Protect the Diaoyu Islands” body-painting event. A beautiful girl, wearing only a mini skirt, was having her upper body painted vivid shades of green and red — representing the Chinese flag flying over the islands. After it was done, she got up to pose for the hordes.
Young girls are promoting love for the motherland elsewhere too. Two such smartly dressed girls stand guard outside a Japanese restaurant in Beijing with red armbands that say, “Diaoyu Islands belong to China”. Displaying the national flag, putting up notices saying the owners and employees are as Chinese as the ingredients used, and most important, posters declaring that the islands belong to China — Japanese restaurants are doing all this. One such owner was left holding a 1,000 yuan bill after two girls hurriedly left after eating, citing an emergency. When they didn’t turn up, the owner opened the purse they had left with her to find a note that said, “The meal is on the Japanese.”
On a more serious note, protesters have been throwing eggs at the Japanese embassy, marching with banners (and Mao portraits) saying, “Kill all Japanese’’, and vandalizing, looting and even burning Japanese showrooms, supermarkets and cars. A photographer at one demonstration had to wrap his Nikon camera with the Chinese flag. In sophisticated Shanghai, a Japanese had hot noodles splattered on his face while another’s spectacles were snatched.
At first, the government encouraged the demonstrations, describing them as an expression of “people’s resolution”. Sportspersons participating in events hosted by Japan faced pressure. Police stood by as a small group carrying the national flag and shouting slogans against American imperialism advanced towards the US ambassador’s car in Beijing. The police sprung into action only when the group got really close. Even then, bottles were thrown at the car. The United States of America has declared it will stand by its ally, Japan. On the anniversary of Japan’s 1931 invasion of Manchuria, Japanese firms were closed. The Shanghai police thoughtfully offered protesters free buses from the Japanese consulate to the nearest station. But few were willing.
Nissan Motors has announced plans to close its factory until October 8, the end of the National Day week-long holiday. A dip in production would affect the thousands of Chinese working in Japanese firms. But emotions are so high that one man set fire to his own Honda Civic. The worst incident, however, was the attack on a Chinese driving his Toyota in Xian, leaving him partly paralysed. This incident sparked off widespread disgust at the violence, which was already being expressed by a few. After five days of violence, the government showed its disapproval, and arrests started being made. But only partial criticism is allowed. A cartoon showing a Chinese standing on the shore hurling abuses at Diaoyu Islands, a hammer replacing his head, stabbing himself, blood splattered all over his clothes, while on the island stands a bewildered Japanese, was taken off a popular website.