The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Anti-Japan Protests Rage across China

The dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands continues to heat up, as nationalistic anti-Japanese protests are spreading across China in response to Tokyo’s purchase of the islands. In response, some Japanese firms have chosen to suspend operations at their factories in China. Reuters has the details:

The weekend protests mainly targeted Japanese diplomatic missions but also shops, restaurants and car dealerships in at least five cities. Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co said arsonists had badly damaged their stores in the eastern port city of Qingdao at the weekend.

Meanwhile, a thousand-ship Chinese fishing fleet is en route to the islands and is at risk of a run-in with the Japanese Coast Guard. Trade between the two countries amounts to $345 billion; neither government wants the dispute to escalate, but with nationalist feeling running high and protests spreading, both sides will have a hard time backing down.

Yet the bigger problems for China may be domestic. As the protests have spread, demonstrators are beginning to air their grievances about the current Chinese leadership, as well as Japan’s actions. Many protesters have begun invoking Mao Zedong and Bo Xilai, according to the Japan Times. With China entering a period of political volatility in anticipation of a power handoff next month, this sort of unrest is exactly what the Communist Party is looking to avoid.

Published on September 17, 2012 5:00 pm