Senkaku China UPDATE5Kyodo News International, Inc.
BEIJING/HONG KONG, Sept. 16 -- (Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING INFO IN 5TH-6TH, 10TH GRAFS)
Chinese protesters threw stones into a building housing a Japanese diplomatic establishment and vandalized a Japanese supermarket as they staged anti-Japan demonstrations Sunday in about 85 cities against Japan's nationalization of a group of islets in the East China Sea claimed by China and Taiwan.
It was the second straight day that Chinese have protested in such a large scale. Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa called on the Chinese government to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of Japanese residents and companies operating in the country.
In some cities, however, anti-Japan protests turned into antigovernment, antiparty demonstrations in which participants criticized the Communist Party's one-party rule, corruption in the bureaucracy, widening income gaps and the difficulty for university graduates to get jobs.
Chinese official media contained scant mention of the damage caused to Japanese business in China, but the official Xinhua News Agency reported that authorities in major Chinese cities have beefed up security efforts to prevent violent protestors from damaging property amid calls for "rational expressions of patriotism."
In a rally in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, more than 10,000 people clashed with riot police as they forced their way toward a Japanese department store. Protesters used metal bars to ransack the department store, attacking security guards who tried to stop them, Hong Kong's TVB reported.
Throwing debris and smoking canisters back at police, the agitated crowd chanted slogans such as "patriotism is not a crime" and called the police "traitors" for suppressing their anti-Japan activities, Hong Kong Cable TV footage showed.
Police fired tear gas at the crowd, but they eventually attacked the store anyway and removed its walls.
Protestors carried a banner reading, "Freedom, democracy, human rights and constitutional government," in an apparent criticism for the Communist Party's one-party rule ahead of a party congress expected to convene in October where President Hu Jintao will hand over party leadership to Vice President Xi Jinping.
In Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, more than 10,000 people faced off with riot police outside the Japanese consulate, holding Chinese flags and pictures of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, Hong Kong broadcaster Now TV reported.
Some broke into the compound of the building housing the consulate and threw stones at the building. Others entered the lobby of the adjacent Garden Hotel and ransacked a Japanese restaurant inside, Hong Kong Cable TV's footage showed.
Xinhua said Guangzhou authorities have sent more police to guard Japanese businesses and a building housing the consulate.
A series of protests came in response to calls on Internet sites to stage protests in at least 33 cities on Sunday in the wake of Japan's announcement Tuesday that the government had bought privately owned land on the Senkaku Islands, which China calls Diaoyu, to put them under state control.
As protesters vandalized Japanese factories, stores and restaurants Saturday, observers were closely watching how Chinese authorities would respond to such violent acts.
Along with Shenzhen and Guangzhou, protests took place in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu in Sichuan Province, Qingdao in Shandong Province, and Nanjing in Jiangsu Province.
Rallies in other cities such as Xiamen, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hohhot, Changchun and Wuhan "were largely peaceful, with few incidents of looting and car smashing," according to Xinhua.
Major Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp., whose production line in Qingdao was damaged by protestors Saturday, decided to suspend operations at the factory until at least Tuesday after around 10 of its employees became agitated and shouted anti-Japan slogans such as "Japanese go home."
As police tightened security around the Japanese Embassy in Beijing with the deployment of more than 1,000 armed personnel, multiple groups marched on a street in front of the embassy without clashing with armed police as they did Saturday.
It marked the sixth straight day of anti-Japan demonstrations in Beijing and Shanghai.
On Saturday, more than 80,000 took to the streets in at least 57 cities to denounce Japan's nationalization of the islands, marking the largest anti-Japan protests in China in terms of participant numbers and breadth since the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in 1972.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was trying to calm the situation by asking citizens to "express their demands in a legal and rational way."
A Xinhua commentary said the Japanese government "should take note of mainstream Chinese public opinion, as voiced in those protests, and think twice about their illegal activities. Otherwise, the foundation of Sino-Japanese relations and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries will sustain damage not seen in the four decades since the normalization of Sino-Japan relations."
"At the same time, the Chinese people should be rational and obey the law when expressing patriotic feelings, and they should abstain from "smashing and looting'," it said.