The dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands continues, and Bruce Einhorn, Bloomberg Businessweek’s Asia bureau chief, explains why China may not be holding as many cards as some Western observers—and Chinese patriots—think:
With a major leadership transition due to take place at the upcoming Communist Party congress, the last thing China’s rulers want is an escalating political crisis that will lead Asian countries wary of Beijing’s intentions to look to the U.S. for protection.
Einhorn also points out that Chinese leaders want to downplay the fact that they don’t actually control the islands. Should demonstrators question why Beijing isn’t standing up to Tokyo, the initial anti-Japan sentiment could fuel a wider anti-government protest.
Already, the government is trying to contain the anti-Japanese demonstrations before they get out of hand. “Patriotism is a noble act, but protestors should avoid any irrational or violent behavior,” the official Xinhua News Agency editorialized on Monday in a story with the headline “Irrational, violent anti-Japanese protests should be avoided.”