Mainland protests as Japan activists raise flag on Diaoyu Islands
Demonstrations take place in several cities - with 1,000 taking to streets of Hong Kong - as Japanese activists raise flag on Diaoyus
Mimi Lau in Guangzhou , He Huifeng and Fiona Tam
Major anti-Japanese demonstrations broke out in several mainland cities yesterday as Japanese nationalists raised flags on the disputed Diaoyu Islands.
Protests took place in Guangzhou, Jinan, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Changsha, Wenzhou, Harbin and Shenzhen.
The demonstration in Shenzhen was the largest and turned ugly in the afternoon.
Protesters threw rocks and bottles at Japanese restaurants and overturned dozens of Japanese brand vehicles, including one police car.
At least three restaurants were severely damaged, with windows and billboards shattered, even though none was actually Japanese-owned. There were no official statistics about the number of protesters, but a Shenzhen police source said almost 20,000 took to the streets during the seven-hour demonstration.
The police did not intervene until protesters began to overturn cars. Riot police kept the crowd hemmed in as people gathered in a public square near the Japanese department store Jusco.
Traffic chaos was caused when thousands of officers blocked main roads leading to crowded areas. Security guards near Jusco said dozens were detained and claimed some were "roughed up". Reporters from the local media were stopped from reporting on the protests.
In Hong Kong, 1,000 took to the streets in a protest organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, marching from Wan Chai to the Japanese consulate in Central.
The protests came as 10 Japanese nationalists raised flags on the Diaoyus - known in Japan as the Senkakus - amid intensifying territorial disputes with China. The move further escalates tensions on both sides after 14 activists sailed to the islands from Hong Kong last week.
Hong Kong Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong said yesterday the action by Hong Kong activists was "a successful attempt" and showed Hong Kong's civic power.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement yesterday that China strongly opposed the Japanese landing on the Diaoyus and urged Japan to stop seeking to undermine China's territorial sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Japan's deputy foreign minister Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi was said to be planning a trip to Beijing to address the escalating tensions.
The Japanese ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa, called China's Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying yesterday and urged Beijing to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and enterprises on the mainland. In Guangzhou, more than 500 protesters gathered outside the Consulate General of Japan near the Garden Hotel.
They burned Japanese flags and demanded an apology from the Japanese government.
A 24-year-old protest organiser said he started appealing for support on the internet on Friday. "The officials were very nice, helping us to pave ways and plot routes for marching while maintaining order," he said.
Additional reporting by Tony Cheung and Joanna Chiu in Chengdu