Det var det. De kinesiske demonstrationer mod Japan lader til at være forbi for denne gang. De begyndte for alvor i weekenden, hvor de bredte sig til op mod 60-80 byer. Tusinder af folk gik på gaden. Der var vandalisme og sammenstød med politi og for eksempel afbrændte Toyota-forhandlere og ødelagte japanske restauranter.
Mandag standsede flere japanske fabrikker midlertidigt deres samlebånd rundt om i Kina, og flere andre japanske virksomheder valgte også at holde lukket. Men allerede her var weekendens noget vildtvoksende protester kommet under myndighedernes kontrol med et langt større opbud af politi rundt om i landet.
Kulminationen kom tirsdag den 18. september, hvor det var årsdagen for hændelsen i Mukden i 1931, der var begyndelsen på den japanske besættelse af Kina. Tirsdag havde myndighederne fået fuld kontrol med folkevreden, og selvom der var langt flere demonstranter på gaderne i nu op mod 100 byer, så var der ikke flere afbrændte biler og sammenstød. Onsdag offentliggjorde Xinhua, at alene i Guangzhou blev 18 personer anholdt på grund af urolighederne i weekenden.
Samtidig havde sikkerhedsvæsenet og politiet ude i gaderne været gode til at forklare demonstranterne, hvad reglerne var. For eksempel med personlige beskeder, sms’er til mobiltelefoner og højtalere, der spillede en båndet optagelse af reglementet.
Så helt grundlæggende – bannere og vrede råb mod Japan? Fint. Krav om politiske reformer i Kina? Nej. Her blev flere anholdt og den tidligere professor Jiao Guobiao, der blandt andet havde været kritisk over for partiets linje mod Japan, er også blevet taget af politiet.
Her onsdag er de japanske virksomheder så åbnet igen og demonstranterne er stort set forsvundet fra den japanske ambassade og konsulater rundt om i Kina. Det var så det. I hvert fald offentligt. For som Evan Osnos, der tirsdag besøgte den japanske ambassade i Beijing, skriver i New Yorker, så vil myndighederne bruge nationalismen, men de vil også kontrollere den:
Police equaled or outnumbered protesters, and they had been issued megaphones to whisk people along when they lingered. About halfway down the protest route, I heard the recorded voice of a woman, and initially thought it was a recording from the protesters. It took me a second to realize it was coming from the police station, and the message was not directed to the Japanese at all. In Chinese, it said:
Since Japan has violated our national sovereignty, it is natural that we express our feelings. We share the same feeling with you. The government’s stance is clear: the government will not tolerate the violation of our national sovereignty. We should support our government, express our patriotic sentiments in a legal, orderly, and rational fashion. We should obey the laws and regulations, and not adopt extreme behavior, or disturb the social order. Please coördinate yourselves with our work, and obey the instructions of the police. Please do not linger here after you express yourself. Thank you everyone.
Moving along the sidewalks with the protesters and onlookers and police, I was struck most of all by how hard the Chinese government was working to keep its people happy, to show them that it is doing what they want. Nationalism is a volatile force, and it would be easy for protests to expand into criticism of the state. Chinese authorities have no choice but to let their people blow off steam over Japan, but they are determined to keep them on message.
En journalist fra Caixin havde også denne ordveksling med en betjent under protesten ved ambassaden i Beijing:
A middle-aged policeman also encouraged me to join the parade.
“Can I shout ‘Punish corruptions’?” I inquired.
“No, you can’t!” the middle-aged officer said, suddenly seriously.
“Only slogans concerned with Diaoyu Islands are allowed,” a young policeman chimed in.
Demonstrationerne er et godt eksempel på – som ved tidligere nationalistiske udbrud – hvordan Kinas Kommunistparti og etpartistaten opildner til demonstrationerne og på samme tid forsøger at kontrollere folkemasserne, som analytikere siger til William Wan i Washington Post:
China analysts say that the two-pronged approach is carefully calibrated to increase pressure on Japan, but that it is also driven by domestic politics, as officials jockey for position ahead of the approaching, once-in-a-decade leadership transition.
“The party is skilled at manipulating such public opinion . . . and the signs that these demonstrations were organized by the government is very high,” said Liu Junning, a former researcher at a government-related think tank and now an independent political analyst. “The protests come when the leaders need one to come, and the protests will stop when they want them to stop.”On Monday, Chinese officials sent signals that they were looking to taper the protests over the disputed islands — called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China — especially in the face of their effects on China-Japan trade.
Så hvad bliver løsningen på den diplomatiske strid mellem Tokyo og Beijing? Der bliver næppe krig mellem Japan og Kina. I hvert fald på den varme måde med missiler og soldater. Men derimod kan det hurtigt komme til en økonomisk krig, som de japanske virksomheder allerede kan mærke. Og selve kernen i det hele – tilhører øgruppen Diaoyu-Senkaku Japan eller Kina – er der ingen nem løsning på, som Los Angeles Times skriver:
James Reilly, author of “Strong Society, Smart State: The Rise of Public Opinion in China’s Japan Policy,” said the dispute, along with another islands fight between Japan and South Korea, had soured “a lot of encouraging signs that had been developing among China, Japan and South Korea on a range of broad economic issues in the past year,” such as expanding currency swaps.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said he doubted that Chinese officials would escalate the tension. But the widespread destruction of property and the calls for boycotts are already taking a toll, he said.
“The Japanese enterprises here now feel very insecure,” said Shi, adding that he was “extremely surprised” by the extensive damage protesters caused over the weekend. “The Japanese businesses in China have already been profoundly damaged. Few consumers will want to buy the merchandise; people are already making private decisions to stop buying Japanese goods.”
Shi said the violent outbursts may backfire on China.
“Before the massive demonstrations and illegal actions, the [islands] case was in China’s favor,” he said. “But now, in the eyes of foreign audiences, who is right and who is wrong has become very ambiguous.”
Derfor er der brug for, at politikerne i Tokyo og Beijing tager sig alvorligt sammen, som Minxin Pei skriver i en kronik i Financial Times. Krisen fik lov til at eskalere, fordi Beijing sidder midt i den største politiske rokade i ti år – med alt hvad det indebærer af retssagen mod Bo Xilai, poltiske studehandler om poster i partiet og Xi Jinpings mystiske forsvinden. Og fordi regeringen i Tokyo også står over for et valg, som den (som altid) upopulære regering ser ud til at tabe.
These circumstances may have caused the crisis to spiral out of control in the past few weeks, but they are no reason for China and Japan to allow further escalation. It is inconceivable that Asia’s two economic giants, joined at the hip commercially, should get into a prolonged confrontation, let alone a military conflict, over these islands. The crisis has already exacted a heavy toll on both countries.
Defusing this crisis requires strong leadership in both Beijing and Tokyo. Chinese leaders must reassert control over national media and tone down anti-Japanese rhetoric, especially in the official press. They should deploy more police to keep order and ensure the safety of Japanese nationals and businesses in China. No official Chinese vessels should be sent to the islands for now, to avoid confrontations with Japanese ships. Now that China has made its point, there is no need to repeat the act.
In Tokyo, the government needs to find creative legal language to sugar-coat the “nationalisation” of the islands and assuage Chinese anger. Japanese politicians also need to cool their election rhetoric.
Most importantly, China and Japan must reopen diplomatic channels and agree on measures to step back from the brink of a disaster neither wants.
Og netop på grund af det politiske klima har Beijing gode grunde til distrahere kineserne ved at vifte med det japanske flag, som Wall Street Journal skriver:
All this suggests that Beijing is seeking a way to distract the population from bad economic news and a succession of political embarrassments. Still, it would be a mistake to underestimate the depth of Chinese nationalism or view the Communist Party’s actions as purely cynical.
As scholar Guo Yingjie has written, modern China harbors two strains of nationalism. The cultural variety emphasizes the preservation of traditions and values that are seen as the essence of being Chinese. The political variety focuses on the creation of a strong state capable of defending its sovereignty, and sees traditional culture as a drag on development.
The clash between these two visions of China has created an identity crisis, Mr. Guo believes, as well as a love-hate relationship with foreign cultures. In recent years the Communist Party has tried to bring them together by touting a “China model” that incorporates Confucian values. But a return to nativism could hamper the adoption of foreign ideas and reforms that China needs to take the next steps toward an innovation-based economy. So far China has not sought to overturn the international status quo as the Soviet Union did, but this new super-nationalism could change that.
Ultimately, China will pay a price for putting its nationalist impulses ahead of its national interest in cultivating foreign trade and investment and acquiring a reputation as a stable, rational and trustworthy power. The question is, how high will the price have to go—and who else will have to share in paying it—if Chinese leaders don’t put their worst impulses in check.
William Pesek på Bloomberg skriver fra Tokyo om, hvordan den japanske regering og Tokyos nationalistiske borgmester, der startede hele balladen denne gang, bare burde opgive den lille ø-gruppe, der med undtagelse af flokke af geder er ubeboet:
China and Japan must act to get a grip on these tensions. Sitting back and letting things escalate by the day imperils Asia’s outlook. Asia should be signing free-trade agreements; linking stock markets and bond markets; harmonizing immigration, tax and accounting standards; and discussing what to do with the trillions of dollars of U.S. Treasuries sitting unproductively on government balance sheets. None of that is possible as Asia’s past gets in the way of what should be a prosperous and peaceful future.
One last thought. Spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money to buy islands, which are closer to mainland China than the main island of Japan, shows poor judgment. Why not stick the wealthy Ishihara with the bill personally and encourage him to move to Senkaku? He will have great company.
:: Illustration her fra Tieba