Throughout China, shops and restaurants selling anything that can even remotely be associated with Japan were sure to hang Chinese flags in their windows, and many placed little hand drawn signs clearly in public view that said something to the effect of: “Diaoyu Islands are Chinese.” While owners of Japanese-make automobiles were sure to stick [...]
Throughout China, shops and restaurants selling anything that can even remotely be associated with Japan were sure to hang Chinese flags in their windows, and many placed little hand drawn signs clearly in public view that said something to the effect of:
“Diaoyu Islands are Chinese.”
While owners of Japanese-make automobiles were sure to stick massive red and yellow stickers all over their automobiles that read:
“Diaoyu Islands belong to China. This car is Japanese but this heart is Chinese.”
On the one hand, these shows of patriotism are not out of place in a country that has been swept away in a wave of nationalistic fervor; on the other hand, these expressions were made to prevent angry, anti-Japanese mobs from vandalizing their possessions.
In this climate, anything that can be construed as being pro-Japanese is in danger of being smashed.
Like this Honda was last weekend:
These preventative measures seem to have worked: I did not see one Japanese restaurant, store, or car that had pro-China demarcations on it attacked or otherwise sabotaged in the protests that engulfed China this week.
For a society that often professes animosity against Japan, there are certainly a lot of Japanese themed restaurants, Japanese cars, and shops selling products from Japanese manufacturers. In Taizhou, a small city three hours from Shanghai that doesn’t boast much of a Japanese community — if one at all — there are probably ten Japanese restaurants alone — not to mention Japanese motorcycle and car dealerships and electronic stores selling Japanese products. Certainly, the animosity that the Chinese often profess for Japan stays out of the dining sphere, driving, and electronics spheres.
It is clear that China and Japan are economically, culturally, and politically bound to one another — whether they like it or not. They are the world’s number two and three economies, and are major trading partners that are heavily invested in each other. The Diaoyu Island fiasco is more akin to two siblings squabbling over a toy — with one wanting it just because the other has it — than anything else. There are two contradictory avenues of sentiment at play here in China. The first, is emotional: Japan is the enemy, they committed incalculable atrocities in China during WW2. The second, is practical: Japan is a major economic partner and, ultimately, a friend of China.
Just so the Chinese profess a love for the motherland, the make of their car and whether they like eating sobe or sushi seems to be irrelevant. Japan and China are so tied together at this point that they could not pull themselves apart — even if they tried. So when the Western press starts chanting “War, war, war,” keep in mind that the Diaoyu conflict is little more than a family feud played out on an international scale: both sides may throw punches, but neither will go as far as to inflict grievous bodily harm.
It’s all a political pissing match complete with an accompanying media sideshow. Go home, there’s truly nothing to see here.