The more I think about it, the more I want to believe these anti-Japan protests are just an excuse for people to catch some fresh air and blow off steam. The genuine anger in some parts isn’t reflected in the above video, taken today by Jacob of BeijingShenghuo (who you’ll remember took this video of Saturday’s more volatile protests). The chants of “Little Japan, fuck your mother” are said so nonchalantly that a spectator who doesn’t know Chinese could confuse this gathering for a high school prep rally. Look at all the people recording with cell phones: they’re not angry; they’re curious. They are, as the Chinese expression goes, cuo renao – joining the fray. There for the hell of it. And the cops are chaperones, just keeping the kids from dancing too close.
Jacob says the crowd was only slightly more lively closer to the Japanese embassy. A few projectiles were thrown, but “it looked like the people throwing things from the back were just hitting the people in the front, including the armed police/soldiers.” And the police, according to Jacob, “were actually pretty friendly.” In other words: we’ve seen twice this anger at CBA games, and infinitely nastier insults at Guo’an soccer matches.
And like so, another anniversary of the 1931 Mukden Incident — during which the Japanese sabotaged their own railroad in Manchuria as pretense to invade — passes. (Almost — I suppose there’s time yet for real violence, but hopefully not.) Japanese stores will open again tomorrow, and all will be okay.
Of course, bloggers in Changsha and Liuzhou and Chengdu et al. could well report tonight that their cities are going up in flames. But I prefer to hope that the worst of these anti-Japan protests are over. For all our sakes, let us hope.