Peking treibt anti-japanische Stimmung angeblich an

Die New York Times belastet die pekische Regierung wegen der anti-japanischen Ausschreitungen in China: Enraged about Japan's tendentious textbooks and territorial disputes in the East China Sea, Sun Wei, a college junior, joined thousands of Chinese in a rare legal protest march on the streets of Beijing last weekend. Yet the police herded protesters into tight groups, let them take turns throwing rocks, then told them they had "vented their anger" long enough and bused them back to campus. "It was partly a real protest and partly a political show," Mr. Sun said in an interview this week. "I felt a little like a puppet." China has tapped a deep strain of nationalism among its people, gambling, analysts say, that it can propel itself to a leadership role in Asia while cloaking its move for power in the guise of wounded pride and popular will. But the government also seems to have taken steps to control - some say manipulate - a nascent protest movement to prevent a grass-roots challenge to the governing Communist Party. In the last few weeks, relations between Asia's two leading powers have reached their most serious crisis since diplomatic ties were re-established in 1972. China has confronted Japan over newly revised history textbooks that gloss over wartime abuses. It stepped up its claim to disputed islands and undersea gas reserves between the countries. China took Japan and the United States to task for declaring that they would jointly defend Taiwan in case of an attack from the mainland. After weeks of hints, Chinese leaders said outright on Wednesday that Japan did not have the moral qualifications to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. That effectively thwarted Japan's ambition to attain that status as part of an overhaul plan this year. The steps have proved immensely popular at home. But stirring up patriotic sentiment to unite the country carries big risks, because party officials fear nothing more than unscripted political activity. Furthermore, they depend heavily on the good will of the major foreign powers to keep investment flowing and the economy humming. "The basic policy of our government has been to be conciliatory to Japan and the rest of the world," said Pan Wei, a political theorist at Beijing University. "But that policy has become less viable today, when people are demanding a harder line." The government's new approach will face a major test this weekend. It will juggle an emergency diplomatic visit from the Japanese foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, with a possible second wave of rallies against Japan. Messages have circulated on Internet forums and mobile phones calling for demonstrations in Beijing, Shanghai, Shengyang and Chengdu, though it remains uncertain if the authorities will allow them to proceed. One well-connected government media editor in Beijing quoted a senior Communist Party leader as saying he was pleased with how protests unfolded last weekend. But the same official also warned about the spread of nationalist sentiment, including within the party itself. "There is a state of concern, even panic, about whether this could get out of control," the editor said. Hu Jintao, China's recently anointed top leader, adopted a nationalist stance after taking full control of the government and military last fall. In March he arranged for the country's legislature to approve a law authorizing military action if Taiwan moves too far toward formal independence.


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