Diaoyu Islands

Safety officials call for calm heads in Diaoyus row

No big rallies after authorities urge people to express their patriotism in 'rational formats'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 3:20am

Anti-Japanese protests subsided in Beijing and elsewhere on the mainland yesterday as authorities sought to prevent public anger over the Japanese government's purchase of the Diaoyu Islands spinning out of control.

There had been no protests outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing by late afternoon, after the city's public safety authorities released a mass text message asking citizens to refrain from further rallies like those that swept the nation in recent days.

"Recently, the public organised spontaneously to express their rational patriotism," the text message said. "We hope now everybody can express their patriotism in other rational formats, but not demonstrate in the embassy area."

No big rallies were reported in other cities either.

The Japanese embassy continued to advise its citizens to be cautious while in China.

Anti-Japanese sentiment - encouraged by sabre-rattling in the state-run media - had been increasing since the Japanese announced a two billion yuan (HK$2.45 billion) deal last week to buy three of the five Diaoyus, known in Japan as the Senkakus.

The tensions ultimately led to rallies in as many as 125 cities, according to Kyodo News, with numerous attacks on Japanese businesses and Japanese-branded cars, as well as occasional reports of violence involving Japanese citizens.

Japanese businesses cautiously returned to normal operations on the mainland yesterday after a fresh round of rallies on Tuesday to mark the 81st anniversary of the incident that led to Japan's invasion of Manchuria.

Meanwhile, Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said that Japan's efforts to nationalise the islands would damage the development of economic and trade relations between the two countries.

"It is not what we wish to see, for which Japan should take full responsibility," Shen said, according to Xinhua.

His remarks came a day after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda suggested, during an appearance on TBS Television in Japan, that China should compensate the Japanese embassy and Japanese businesses damaged during demonstrations.

But as anti-Japanese protests broke up, another started outside the US embassy, where some 50 protesters surrounded a car carrying US ambassador Gary Locke and tried to stop it entering the compound.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said it was "an individual case" which would be investigated.

At least 19 Japanese websites, including those of a government ministry, courts and a hospital, have come under cyberattack, apparently from China, the Japanese National Police Agency said in a statement.

Calls continue to circulate on the internet for more protests at the weekend, when more people will be home from work.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse