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    China in your hand

    Simon has still more information on the anti-Japanese protests–well, in some places, they really are accurately called riots–so I won’t write much on what others have been covering so ably.

    One thing to bear in mind, though, is that not only aren’t all these protests really just about the textbooks and the UNSC, they’re also not really just about Japan. I’m not a China scholar, but back when Lu Xun was writing, he was ending stories with characters’ crying on the beach and wailing, “Oh, China–why don’t you prosper and strengthen?” China feels that it should, by rights, be the big cheese in Asia. That the country that trumps it economically is Japan is certainly a twist of the knife, and that Japan continues to take the maddening tack of skirting close to apologizing for its atrocities without ever actually doing so is a legitimate issue–but a lot of what’s erupting is frustration that China’s such a basket case in ways that, I think, are only indirectly related to Japan. I don’t want to deflect attention from Japan’s questionable conduct; much as I love this country and its people, it’s let-bygones-be-bygones attitude toward its own sins upsets me. But there are reasons specific to China itself that these things are unfolding as they are, and that’s important to remember, too.

    Added at 21:37: And trust that ace diplomat Shintaro Ishihara, our Metro Governor here in Tokyo, to pour oil on the waters:

    A fishing boat chartered by the Ogasawara Island Fishermen’s Cooperative using a Tokyo Metropolitan Government subsidy left on Tuesday for the disputed Okinotorishima Islands to show the area is part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

    At the urging of Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, the metropolitan government allocated 500 million yen from its fiscal 2005 budget to subsidize fishing activities around Japan’s southernmost islands to counter surveys Chinese research ships have frequently conducted in the area.

    “We will prove that the area is Japan’s exclusive economic zone,” Ishihara said when the metropolitan government decided to subsidize fishing in the area.

    Even though it remains to be seen whether fishing operations around Okinotorishima Islands will be profitable, the metropolitan government has offered to cover any possible losses. “The metropolitan government is prepared to make up for any losses from such operations,” Ishihara said.

    So it’s not the fishing that’s important, it’s the f**k-you. Marvelous.

    2 Responses to “China in your hand”

    1. John says:

      There is also the fact that you can’t criticize the party, so you take your frustrations out on targets that are allowable. This was true in the USSR, pointing out racial inequality in the US while persecuting Tatars and running Gulags themselves, and it’s true in the Arab world where they scapegoat the US and Israel to take the heat off of despotic regimes.

      I would hazard a guess that a lot of these Chinese protestors were paid / coerced / given the day off and bussed in, just as were many in the crowd who stoned the US embassy after the NATO bombing of the Chinese consulate. I highly doubt anyone would risk the authorities going all Tienanmen on them by attacking people who weren’t at least tacitly targeted by the authorities.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      My assistant was originally in China Studies, and he was also saying that the CCP might be using it as a safety valve. Makes sense. I do wish that Japan would make it less easy, though; when there are legitimate grievances, it only matters to a certain extent that they may be being used disingenuously. It’d be nice if China were forced to repair to things that were more far-fetched.

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