TERRITORIAL DISPUTE
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Diaoyu Islands

Protesters in islands row vent fury on Japanese firms

Hotels and supermarkets targeted as islands anger spreads across cities

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 September, 2012, 4:05am

Big protests over the Diaoyu Islands stand-off were held in cities across China yesterday, with some people attacking Japanese restaurants and businesses.

Japan's Kyodo news agency said the demonstrations were the biggest in China since the two countries normalised diplomatic relations in 1972.

In Xian, capital of Shaanxi province, a five-star hotel founded by a Japanese firm but sold to a Singaporean business was targeted by protesters. "The lobby was badly damaged, with almost all windows smashed and tables and chairs overturned. But guest rooms were not affected, nor has anybody been hurt," said an employee of the Grand Park Xian.

Another hotel, the Bell Tower, which protesters believed was hosting a group of Japanese tourists, was attacked by dozens of demonstrators. Windows around the front gate were smashed in the afternoon, hotel staff said. Pictures posted online showed hundreds of riot police forming a defensive line around the hotel.

Hundreds of protesters also smashed windows at Jusco, a Japanese supermarket and department store chain, in Qingdao, Shandong province. Several people made their way inside the store and smashed bottles of wine and electrical appliances such as TV sets. Some looting was also reported.

Protests in Shanghai and Yinchuan, in Ningxia, were relatively calm. In Shanghai, about 200 police officers cordoned off the street leading to the Japanese consulate and let protesters approach the building in groups of 100. Demonstrators had to register first with police.

Japanese-brand cars have become convenient targets for angry protesters, and some in Xian appeared to be trying to make a point when a fleet of European brand luxury cars took part in a demonstration, with some vehicles bearing a sign telling the Japanese to get out of the Diaoyus.

In Beijing, some protesters called on people to boycott Japanese products. "I used to have a Japanese camera, but I just threw it away," said one woman. However, the boycott call didn't stop many other protesters from taking pictures of the occasion with Japanese cameras.

Another participant, a maintenance worker who took his month-old baby to the rally, said: "I will only use Chinese-made components to fix machines now, even though their quality is not as good as Japanese ones."

Meanwhile, anti-Japan protests may take another form today when China's self-imposed fishing ban in the East China Sea ends. Mainland media earlier estimated hundreds of fishing boats from Fujian and Zhejiang would head to the disputed waters.

Additional reporting by Li Jing, Associated Press and Reuters