Close

Donate today to keep Global Voices strong!

Our global community of volunteers work hard every day to bring you the world's underreported stories -- but we can't do it without your help. Support our editors, technology, and advocacy campaigns with a donation to Global Voices!

Donate now

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Censor Machine Suspended for Anti-Japan Mobilization?

As the tension between China and Japan over the disputed Diaoyu Islands (also known as the Senkaku Islands) has elevated, large scale anti-Japan protests have taken place all over China in more than 80 cities over the weekend.

Some of the demonstrations turned violent, protesters started attacking Japanese style restaurants, shopping malls and shops; some even tried to set fire to Japanese vehicles. Yet, in a country where online activities are closely monitored and public security forces are extremely effective, many wondered what made these nationwide protests possible.

Free More News‘s video shows how protesters in Changsha attacked and mobbed a Japanese shopping center in September 15, 2012:

Coordination of protests

Many netizens pointed out that the protests were coordinated via QQ groups, which are more “private” than other social media platforms such as Weibo. From Sina Weibo, Mars explains [zh]:

Protesters set fire to a car in Xian. Photos from Free more news.

Protesters set fire to a car in Xian. Photos from Free more news.

微博仅是一个相对小众的平台,君不见各种QQ群、QQ空间上病毒式传播的反日宣传,那里的受众才是上街打砸抢的主力军。

Weibo is not a popular platform. The anti-Japan propaganda is spreading via QQ groups and QQ space like a virus. The violent protesters are stirred up by these platforms.

Also on Weibo, user Economist finds out [zh] that government civil servants were active in mobilizing the protests:

今天吃饭时一朋友说连续2天看到同学QQ群中发布几日几点到哪里集合反日,用词几乎一字不改。我赶紧问发布的这两个同学在哪儿就职。答曰一个在地税局,另一位在某军工央企驻当地的研究所。

A friend told me during a meal that we received the same protest call message from different alumni groups via QQ. I asked him about the background of the senders. He said one is working for the land revenue bureau, one is working for a research center in a military corporation.

zy in boston raises [zh] a technical question:

我非常疑惑,深圳这么多人上街反日,难道QQ软件里的三个监控外挂都因为爱国而暂停工作了吗?

How come there are so many anti-Japan protesters in Shenzhen? What about the three layers of monitoring existing in QQ? Are all these functions suspended because of patriotism?

Indeed over the past two days, even though words like “Rally” (游行) have not been searchable on social media platforms, the term “Anti-Japan protest” has not been banned. Words like “Diaoyu Islands”, “Protect Diaoyu”, “Protest”, and “Crushing” even appear in the hot topic search list.

Below is the screen capture of the “Anti-Japan Protest” (反日示威) search result:

Behind the scenes?

Hu Zimei raises a series of questions and wonders [zh] who exactly is behind the scenes:

越来越觉得这事不对劲:1,四五十个城市同时起动;2,人数不多,但破坏力大,几乎全部中青年男性,集结后立即打砸,目标感强;3,防暴警察的执法不作为步调统一;4,各路喇叭媒体和官博忙不迭对打砸暴行定性为爱国行为的过激表现;5,显示打砸暴徒的微博被极快删帖。这是不是一场根本与人民无关的有组织的暴行?

Something is wrong. 1. 40-50 cities are protesting at the same time; 2. The total number of participants are not too many but the protests are rather destructive. Most of them are young men, they work together to launch attacks at some very specific targets; 3. The riot police are not prepared; 4. The state-controlled media and opinion leaders consider the violent protests as radical expression of patriotism; 5. All micro-blogs that show the violent scenes are deleted. I wonder if this is organized violence that has nothing to do with people?

Some bloggers believe that the protest is related to the upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Some news reports have already pointed out that the numbers in the Politburo Standing Committee (top leadership of the Communist Party of China) will be reduced from 9 to 7 seats and the secretary of the Political and Legislative Committee will be dismissed from the core leadership.

The Committee is designed to oversee public security, law execution and judiciary in China and has been responsible for “stability maintenance” in the past few years. Such an arrangement is believed to be related to the scandal of the former Chongqing party Secretary Bo Xilai, who is closely connected with the Head of the Public Security Bureau and the current Secretary of the Political and Legislative Committee, Zhou Yongkang.

Below are some of the speculations found on Weibo [zh]:

唐吏宋:宣传口子和政法口子在某位大神的指点之下搞出了这么一些卵子。这就是他们想要的结果。然后就有借口进行以后一系列行动了。那个时候就又有得玩了。这才是他们的目的。他们是导演。你们甘愿当演员。受害者和受益者是谁麻烦动个脑子这样的剧本每个朝代都有上演。难道我们也要经历一次么?

Tang Song history: The propaganda authorities and the Political and Legislative Committee are working together under some commands. This is what they want, an excuse for them to take action. Then they can re-enter the scene. This is their intention. They are the directors and you are the voluntary actors. Please think who are the victim and who gain from this? History has be recurring through out all the dynasties. Do we have to go through this again?

全能RVP:为何台湾香港没有发生反日打砸抢?只有一个原因,就是共军自导自演+共军洗脑导致!~

RVP: Why there is no violent act in Taiwan and Hong Kong? Only one reason, the Communists are self-directing the whole act.

常啸九天:您老还看不出来吗?这就是借反日之名发泄对政府的不满,其背后可能有“毛左”的操纵。当局内外交困了!

Cry out loud: Can't you see? They are making use of the anti-Japan protest to express their anger at the government. The Maoist Left is probably behind this. The central authority is caught in the middle of internal and external tension.

Rational voices

While angry patriots are in the street protesting, cooler heads do prevail online as the Tea Leaf Nation pointed out [zh]. Below are some of my picks from the more rational voices:

WeMarketing:通过这次反日打砸抢,对中国又有了新的认识,虽然已经是2012,但历史可以轻易重演,今天是以反日为名,以后可能会以反资本家,或者反外籍为名,只要你所在的人群是需要被打倒的那个,你的个人财产就可能被人不用负责的毁掉,你的人身安全就无法受保证。义和团、红卫兵、爱国贼,一代传一代。

WeMarketing: I know a bit more about China in this violent protest. We are now in 2012, but history still keeps recurring. This is in the name of anti-Japan, next time in the name of anti-capitalists, or anti-foreigners. If you are among the group of people being targeted at, you can't protect your property and your own safety. Boxer rebellion, Red Guards, patriotic thugs, one generation after other.

城市茅屋:历史上的义和团和红卫兵都是先被人当枪使,然后再被人当替罪羊,千万不要成为粪青!打砸抢谁获利啊?动动脑子吧!

hut in the city: In history, both the Boxer and the Red Guard are used as weapons and then turned into scapegoats. Don't join the angry youth. Who will gain from these violent acts? Please just use your brain.

乐嘉:日本的高明在于用中国的7平方公里不经意间居然撬动起整个中国大陆960万平方公里疯狂的自残而我们中的很多人还以为自己是英雄。老娘问我打仗咋办,我说不怕打仗怕文革。

Leja: The Japanese are so smart. They make use of a 7 kilometre square piece of land to stir up the crazies all over China's 960 million square meters of territories. Some of us still feel that they are heroes. My mother asked what would happened if the war started? I said I am not afraid of war but I am afraid of the Cultural Revolution. 

As the violence has elevated, riot police have adopted stronger measures. However, as the anniversary of the Muken Incident is approaching on September 18, the anti-Japanese sentiment may continue to grow in the next few days.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site