I watched from the 9th floor window of my office building as thousands of protesters walked down the street, railing against Japanese “imperialism”. They were of course being shadowed by a force of several hundred riot police decked out in full tactical gear. Ever since tensions flared up over control of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, a group of rocky, uninhabited islands between the 2 major economies, the CCP has let protests rage across China. However, this is a double-edged sword.
All it takes is a little spark. Now the people are protesting Japan. But at the drop of a hat it could change focus and be directed at government inaction, skyrocketing housing prices or corruption. Whenever that appears to happen, the police rush in with water cannons and batons. So who is the real enemy of China? It seems many of the educated people I meet are aware of where the real threat lies (somewhere in Beijing) but the vast majority of the protesters are sheep who blindly follow the propaganda coming from CCTV, a well-known government mouthpiece. This is very foolish.
Many Chinese, including the educated ones, are under the false belief that China owned the Diaoyu Islands in ancient times. Firstly, this should have no bearing on their present ownership. If it were Chinese then Chinese people could go there. BUT, just a few weeks ago, some Chinese tried to land on one of the islands but were arrested by the Japanese Coast Guard. Then some Japanese people go and nothing happens to them. If you can’t go to some islands that you own because another country will arrest you then those islands really don’t belong to you, do they?
Secondly, even rudimentary research of the islands, which is never done by most Chinese because they’ve been fed the government line since high school, will reveal that it was never directly controlled by China. Ever. They were instead under the jurisdiction of the island kingdom of Ryukyu (1429-1879), which was based on Okinawa and conquered by Japan in 1879. In history, Ryukyu was a tributary state of Ming China. This means that it paid tribute to China and adopted some Chinese-style administration practices, making it a satellite state of sorts, but never becoming a part of Chinese territory.
This of course runs contrary to what the Communist Party says and they have now chosen to deliberately distort history to suit their current ambitions, which include shaming Japan and nabbing the massive oil reserves and fishing grounds in the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone. In fact, it wasn’t until 1968 when the People’s Republic of China started fighting over the islands. Coincidentally, this is also the same year that oil was discovered near the islands. Go figure.
Thirdly, the idea that land belongs to a country because they owned it hundreds of years ago is incredibly childish. By that thinking, Mongolia would currently control all of China and Mexico would have half of the US. This is the thought process the government is trying to instill in the people. It’s backwards and lazy thinking.
In addition to these points I’ve raised about why China’s claims are ridiculous, the average Chinese person is heavily dependent on Japanese goods and the society as a whole is largely in love with Japan. Go up to any one of the protesters and you’re guaranteed to find Sony phones and cameras, you’ll find that many of them drive Japanese cars, many of them watch anime or read manga, and almost all of them love sushi. Given the opportunity to emigrate to Japan, many of them would likely take it. So what is it about Chinese people that makes them hate Japan so much (aside from the obvious historical conflicts)?
I’ve mentioned it before. It’s the continuous victim mentality propaganda spouted by the government. And, for better or worse, whenever a student starts going on and on about how bad Japan is, I tell them how much I like Japan and why they’re the stupidest person in the world for falling for the CCP’s lies. Maybe they’ll think I’m an ignorant foreigner or maybe, just maybe, they’ll go and learn the facts for themselves. If I can get just one person to actively seek the truth for themselves then my time here (almost a year now) would have been worth it.