Sino-Japanese ties fraught as Diaoyu protests continue on mainland
Hundreds rally in Hebei, further denting relations ahead of bilateral anniversary
Anti-Japanese protests continued on the mainland yesterday despite state media's playing down of rallies held in several big cities on Sunday.
Several hundred people took to the streets in Shijiazhuang , in Hebei province , waving flags and banners with slogans in a park opposite the city government's headquarters, China News Service said.
Relations between China and Japan have soured amid tensions over the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea and after the Tokyo city government filed a request to land a party on the disputed islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, according to news agency Kyodo.
Pictures online show protesters in Shijiazhuang waving banners reading "Japanese get off the Diaoyu Islands". A Japanese noodle shop operator said he had closed it for fear of damage.
The protest was relatively small compared to those in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chengdu , Wenzhou and Hangzhou on Sunday. In Shenzhen, tens of thousands took to the streets and overturned cars.
In a sign that tensions may well continue, a report on www.ribenxinwen.com a Chinese-language Japanese news website, said yesterday the Tokyo city government wanted to send a party to land on the islands on August 29. It filed a similar request on August 17, but it was rejected by the Japanese cabinet.
A cultural exchange event in Fujian province originally scheduled for September 4, which would have been attended by Okinawa governor Hirokazu Nakaima, has been postponed.
Zhou Yongsheng , a Japanese affairs expert at the China Foreign Affairs University, said the row would affect sentiment as the countries prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of bilateral ties next month. The top leaders of both countries are due to attend celebrations.
"Both sides want to calm sentiment over the disputes to ensure the smooth running of the celebrations," he said. "Still, it is possible that President Hu Jintao or some Politburo members will be absent."