Five of the 20 protesters wanted by police in Shenzhen have turned themselves in amid a high-profile crackdown aimed largely at containing the fallout from violent anti-Japanese protests, media reported yesterday.
Citing police officers from the Futian district public security bureau, the Nanfang Daily reported that one of the five protesters was detained for criminal investigation and three were released on parole pending further investigation. Another person was issued a warning and released.
The order by Shenzhen authorities for police to round up those responsible for the chaos is the latest example of a local government trying to distance itself from the demonstrations, as authorities have been criticised for whipping up patriotic sentiment that escalated into attacks on Japanese symbols on the mainland, including Japanese-made cars owned by Chinese.
Protests erupted in dozens of Chinese cities after Tokyo announced earlier this month that it was buying three of the five contested Diaoyu islands - known as the Senkakus in Japan.
But those protests turned violent in several cities, including Shenzhen, as unruly mobs clashed with police and burned or looted Japanese businesses, including factories, restaurants and hotels.
In the fallout, authorities called for the public's help in rounding up suspects believed responsible for serious offences. By Sunday, police had received more than 350 tips about 20 wanted protesters.
One of the five protesters that surrendered, a 30-year-old man, told mainland media that he turned himself in to local police after he saw his photo circulating on Sina Weibo, and said that he regretted vandalising a police vehicle that was deployed to help control the protest.
In a commentary yesterday, The Beijing News urged police to expand their search beyond the list of wanted suspects, as many more suspects were still at large.
The newspaper also asked why the police failed to prevent the chaos breaking out in the first place.
"If police showed indifference and inaction in their dealing with the vandalism, it amounts to a form of condoning and encouraging [such action]," the paper said.