Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pretextual: Bay Area Chinese Protest Dispute Over Obscure Japanese Rocks


People in the Bay Area love to say they're above such petty international concerns like war, territorial disputes and (shudder) nationalistic jingoism. There must be some other reason why thousands of Chinese-Americans marched through SF's Chinatown loudly denouncing Japan's purchase of an island chain.
Joining large, angry demonstrations in Asia, Chinese-Americans from throughout the Bay Area massed in this city's Chinatown on Saturday to denounce Japan's purchase of an island chain that has long been the focus of a bitter dispute between that nation and China. 
A few thousand people crammed into Portsmouth Square at the base of Chinatown to clap, chant and cheer as a series of speakers decried Japan's announcement Tuesday that it had bought the three uninhabited East China Sea islands, called Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. 
Hoisting banners and signs reviling Japan's action as well as its bloody occupation of China during World War II, the protesters paraded down nearby streets.
Interestingly, this protest involving several thousand people marching through SF's Chinatown in support of an oppressive, nominally communist government rated not a mention in the SF Chronicle. The linked article came from the San Jose Mercury News.

The many English-speaking protesters who spoke on the record may be American citizens, but they are having trouble leaving the old country and its resentments behind.
For many people of Chinese descent, Japan's announcement regarding the islands has brought to a boil intense animosities that have simmered for decades. 
"Of course we are angered," said 72-year-old Ying-Ying Chang of San Jose, whose late daughter, Iris Chang, wrote the best-selling book "The Rape of Nanking," which detailed Japan's mistreatment of the Chinese during the war. 
Noting that she was born in China during the Japanese occupation, she added: "My parents went through such difficulties -- all Chinese did -- to resist the Japanese aggression. ... That's the kind of thing that people can never forget." 
Protester Thomas Chu, a 55-year-old health-care provider from Oakland who was born in Hong Kong, agreed. 
"I'm very upset," he said of Japan's decision to buy the islands. "It's just like somebody comes to occupy your house. It's the same feeling. ... This is basically a very wrongful act by the Japanese government."
These guys can be outraged all they want, but no one's going to care. Hasn't anyone told them that the feds only care about foreign affairs when there is a crappy 14-minute movie involved? Also, they might want to consider whether there is any point beyond Chinese sabre-rattling
China and Japan long have been at odds over ownership of the islands between Okinawa and Taiwan, which also claims them. Although the dispute dates back hundreds of years, Japan first took control of them when it defeated China in an 1895 war. After the World War II, the United States retained jurisdiction over them for a while, but eventually put them back under Japanese control in 1972. 
In August, anti-Japanese protests broke out in a number of Chinese cities after a group of Japanese nationalists landed on the disputed islands and waved Japanese flags. 
The most recent protests were set off by Japan's announcement Tuesday that it had purchased the islands from private Japanese owners. China responded by sending several surveillance ships into the disputed waters. And by Saturday, protests spread throughout China and violence broke out in a number of places, according to the Associated Press.
There's no "dispute." Japan won them fair and square in a war, lost them in another war, got them back, and have kept them in Japanese hands all this time. The islands are Japanese. Next, please.


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