Violent anti-Japan protests sweep across China

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Tens of thousands of Chinese have been staging rallies across their country since the weekend, protesting Japan’s nationalization of the disputed Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.

Dozens of Japanese businesses in at least 28 cities have been broken into, ransacked and set ablaze.  The anti-Japanese rallies and protests have been the largest since China and Japan established diplomatic relations in 1972, and have been even more intense than the 2005 protests triggered by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to the Yasukuni War Shrine.

The waves of protests were triggered by last week’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands.  China claims sovereignty over the islands, which it calls Diaoyu.  Taiwan also claims the islands, which is calls Tiaoyutai.

The largest demonstrations to date have been in ‘Qingdao, Shandong Province, where as many as 30,000 demonstrated, protested and rioted.  There, as many as ten Japanese enterprises including a Panasonic factory, was torched.   Protesters attacked another Panasonic factory in Suzahou, Jiangsu Province, breaking glass at the factory entrance and flipping over a car.  The Qingdao protesters also invaded and trashed a Jusco supermarket in the city, while other protesters in Suzhou destroyed more than a dozen Japanese restaurants.

Beijing has deployed more than 100 police officers and 100 vehicles around the Japanese Embassy to prevent protesters from taking violent action.  More than 1,000 protesters have broken barricades, blocked traffic and tossed plastic bottles and eggs onto the embassy grounds.  They’re carrying Chinese flags and chanting “Protect the Diaoyu Islands” and “slap economic sanctions on Japan.”  Elsehwere, more than 10,000 have joined protests in Changsha, attacking Japanese cars and breaking windows of a Japanese supermarket.

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