≡ Menu

Chinese Flags and Nationalistic Posters Save Japanese Cars and Businesses in China During Diaoyu Protests

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 [...]

Sushi restaurant China with Chinese flagThroughout 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:

Japanese car smashed in China

Japanese car vandalized in China

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.

Japanese car in China with patriotic bumper stickers

Text reads: Diaoyu Islands are China’s. This car is Japanese, this heart is Chinese. This keeps anti-Japanese protesters from vandalizing this car.

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.

Japanese restaurant with Chinese flags

Chinese flags put up on a Japanese restaurant.

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.

Sunning store with patriotic Chinese signs

Sunning, an electronics store that sells Japanese products, hangs patriotic signs in their windows and Chinese flags to prevent vandalism.

Filed under: China, Intercultural Conflict, War

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3544 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s writing on this blog (please help):

Wade Shepard is currently in: Astoria, New York

15 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Ken September 22, 2012, 2:04 am

    All photos of Japanese restaurants you listed are fake.
    You should report the phenomenon that the Chinese themselves discard their proud Chinese food and serve their hating Japanese cuisine even in own land.
    Btw, can you be still mocking even if your country’s land is about to be stolen?

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard September 22, 2012, 4:01 am

      No, those photos are not fake, I took them myself. Anyway, what do you think is more probably:

      A) That there are Japanese restaurants in China that put up Chinese flags and slogans.

      B) That I rented various stores, built fake Japanese restaurants, and then put Chinese flags in the windows just so I could take photos of them.

      Come on now.

      “You should report the phenomenon that the Chinese themselves discard their proud Chinese food and serve their hating Japanese cuisine even in own land.”

      This article did do this. Did you take the time to actually read it or are you just interested in hurling insults?

      Link Reply
  • Taka September 22, 2012, 12:26 pm

    Hi, Wade. Your article is introduced by Searchina, Japanese news site run by Chinese businessmen, with titled ‘squabbling over a toy amongst Japan and China.’ So, many Japanese have read it. I would like to thank you for your interesting photos. I think Ken wanted to say that the photos are fake Japanese restaurants and flags are its evidence. In my opinion, ‘squabbling over a toy’ amongst countries is very usual all over the world, I am sorry to have to say that, including your country. So, some sensitive person may feel insulted by the title by Searchina picked from those words, though you have no intention to do so. It is sad but people tend to be excited by everything now.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard September 22, 2012, 8:36 pm

      Thanks for telling me about this. True, irrational inter-country squabbles are very common. It’s just interesting that Japan and China are sacrificing such a strong mutually beneficial relationship fighting over such a small amount of territory. It just seems as if the public is being manipulated by their governments and media on both sides.

      Link Reply
      • Taka September 23, 2012, 1:50 am

        Hi Wade,
        Actually, you have a point; however, in my opinion, a serious crisis comes from rather people’s fear multiplied by frustrations than their voracious demands. Therefore, benefits tend to be ignored by people. So, I think it is more effective to reduce people’s fear than reminding about benefits. I hope both governments would try to do so, though former is much more difficult than latter.

        Link Reply
        • Wade Shepard September 23, 2012, 4:43 am

          You’re right here. Emotion always weighs more with people than logic. Peoples minds are filled by feeling, not sense. Often, it seems as if people enjoy the thrill of conflict, but this is an issue for another day. Thanks for the comments.

          Link Reply
  • Taka September 22, 2012, 1:03 pm

    P.S.
    His ‘Fake’ might mean pretended Japanese business, or modified-Japanese-cuisine run by Chinese businessmen in other words. Of cause these restaurants are not fake in fact, even though modified definitely by them.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard September 22, 2012, 8:31 pm

      Hello Taka,

      Thanks for this clarification. I had no idea what he was talking about. Yes, this is why I called them “Japanese themed restaurants.”

      Link Reply
      • Taka September 23, 2012, 2:16 am

        You are right absolutely. I cannot understand him as well, but I guess that he might feel as if he were told about needs of water sparing in modern society, for example, at the scene of a fire.

        Link Reply
        • Wade Shepard September 23, 2012, 4:47 am

          Thanks Taka,

          For sure, people need avenues to express their rage. Unfortunately, it’s often senseless misplaced upon other people.

          Link Reply
  • TaKa September 23, 2012, 6:35 pm

    I only expose the disgraceful behavior that terrorism of China is ignominious

    Link Reply
  • uoynes September 23, 2012, 10:06 pm

    >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.

    What did Japan do about the Senkakus?
    These islands apparently belong to Japan.
    It was only China who’s formed crazy mob.
    Don’t speak as if Japan is the same level as the crazy riots in China.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard September 23, 2012, 10:29 pm

      Apparently, you’ve chosen a side.

      Link Reply
      • uoynes September 23, 2012, 10:40 pm

        Are you talking about yourself?

        Link Reply
        • Wade Shepard September 23, 2012, 10:59 pm

          Haha, oh man, not going to be pulled down this road. Find someone else to fight with.

          Link Reply