Diaoyu Islands, or what’s known as Senkakus in Japan, has been stirring up the waters between China and Japan for the past week. On August 15, a group of 14 pro-China activists from Hong Kong and Taiwan unfurled national flags of both mainland China and Taiwan on the disputed islands, who were then arrested and deported by Japanese police. On August 19, as a strike back, a group of Japanese activists also went ashore and raised Japanese national flags on the islands. And yesterday, US and Japan, together, conducted island defense drill near Diaoyu Islands, which inevitably furthers the tension and makes people think that US is backing Japan.
Taiwan flag and PRC flag aren’t seen besides each other very often, if at all.
However, more interesting is how this Diaoyu Island flag showdown has stirred up the waters within China. During the past weekends, waves of anti-Japan protests, probably the only kind of protest that the Chinese people are allowed, raged across China, from Shenzheng, a Southern city boardering Hong Kong, to Chengdu, a major city deep in China’s West. And like all protests (authorized or not) in China, many of these anti-Japan protests went violent. Pictures online show young protesters overthrowing Japanese brand cars and smashing stores that are believed to have a Japanese connection.
To avoid being smashed, owner of this car put up signs that read, “It’s a Japanses model car, but I have a Chinese heart, “ and “Sora Aoi belongs to the world but Diaoyu Islands belong to China.” (Sora Aoi is a Japanese porn star that is super popular among Chinese netizens.)
Violent protests are only one side of the story. The other side is netizens condemning such “sick” patriotism. 二狗子潘大屁 explained: “Japan arrested Chinese activists and these protesters smashed cars owned by ordinary Chinese people. How is this patriotism?” 苏菲_哈尔 commented: “These protesters thought they were righteous and doing justice, but the truth is that they are cowards. They hid behind patriotism and smashed properties of their compatriots on the lands of their home country. Yet at the same time, they use Japanese brand electronics, read Japanese comic books and watch Japanese porn.” Bo若蛮蛮 added: “Whenever it comes to moments like this (anti-Japan protests), there are always people who want to use the protest as an opportunity to vent out their anger towards the society and the rich. If these protesters are true patriots, why do they smash cars of their own people? After seeing these protesters’ actions, I feel ashamed to even mention the word of patriotism.”
And of course, how could there not be calls for boycotting Japanese brands during a China-Japan tension? But this time, in response to boycott calls, many netizens shouted: “Before boycotting Japanese brands, let’s boycott these stupid patriots first.”
A protester caught in picture. Words on his t-shirt read “Boycotting Japanese brands,” and yet he carried a Canon camera.
But probably more telling than all these discussions of patriotism is a poll started on Sina Weibo. The question is “If your kid is born on Diaoyu Islands, which citizenship would you choose for her?” (China, Taiwan and Japan all claim sovereignty over the disputed rocks.)
Nearly half chose Taiwan, followed by Hong Kong. Surprisingly, even Japan scored ahead of mainland China. What this means? It means, as 骑士披风 explained, “It’s all about personal interests. Nothing else really matters.” And caocaocaopi probably spoke out the minds of many other netizens: “If given the choice, most people would select the U.S.”