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Tensions mount amid anti-Japanese rallies

Protests follow landing on disputed islands by Japanese activists

About 300 people protested in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province About 300 people protested in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province
  • ucanews.com reporter, Wenzhou
  • China
  • August 20, 2012
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Protestors took to the streets in cities across China on Sunday as tensions with Japan escalated after assembly makers were among a group of activists that planted Japanese flags on a disputed island yesterday.

From Hangzhou in eastern Zhejiang province to Shenzhen in the south and Chengdu in the west, reports said Chinese joined rallies after Japanese nationalists landed yesterday on the Diaoyu Islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan.

There were reports demonstrators overturned cars in some Chinese cities as protests targeted Japanese vehicles amid reports many people on the mainland were boycotting products made in Japan.

In Wenzhou, a port city in Zhejiang province a few hours by train from Shanghai, 300 people responded to an internet appeal to join protests on Sunday.

Some participants said authorities tried to persuade them to abandon a demonstration starting at the city’s Century Plaza.

“Several activists repeatedly told the officials that we were not opposing the Communist Party or the government,” said a participant who declined to be named.

Some bloggers who also requested anonymity said they were already preparing for a government crackdown on demonstrations by agreeing that there was rally organizers that could be singled out and by reminding participants to refrain from violence.

“This rally is the realization of democracy and freedom. It is not usually allowed in China so I cherished this chance very much,” said Clare, a Catholic participant. “It is my way to express patriotism but absolutely does not mean that I love the Communist Party.”

The incident on Sunday, which was unapproved by Tokyo and has led to an investigation, follows a similar landing by five Chinese activists on August 15 who were subsequently arrested and sent back to Hong Kong.

The islands, which were annexed by Japan at the end of the 19th century, are also claimed by Taiwan.

In April, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara proposed Japan use public funds to buy the islands from a Japanese citizen who claims ownership.
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