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Tens of thousands take to the streets of Shanghai

Huge crowd has fun hating on Japan

Click here for photos of today’s anti-Japan march in Shanghai.

[UPDATE: Video clips of the march are here, here and here.]

So, I ended up going to Shanghai’s anti-Japan march this morning anyway. Going against the advice of a Chinese friend who told me the protest would be “very dangerous.” Going against the advice of the American government which warned U.S. citizens that China’s blanket hatred of all things Japanese could mutate into acts of violence toward all things foreign. I picked up the protest near People’s Square at around 9:30 a.m. expecting to see lines of Shanghai police, worrying slightly that my camera could get confiscated, not necessarily because it is a Japanese-made Canon — although that thought did cross my mind — but because I figured Shanghai authorities, desperately worried about the image of China’s most international city, would be doing everything in their power to limit the event’s exposure to the outside world.

Well, nothing of the sort happened. There were no lines of police. There were some, of course. But the majority of police that I saw today were smiling and laughing and marching along with the protesters. No one said a thing about my camera — not one of the police officers atop their Yamaha motorcycles, definitely not the Chinese student who wanted me to answer a question into his Sony video camera.

Everyone, in fact, had a camera today — from the protesters to the hundreds that lined the street and crowded onto overpasses to watch the procession. And what a procession it was. I have read reports that say “more than 5,000” people marched in Shanghai today. Let me tell you — there were groups of marchers out there that came close to totaling 5,000. Tens of thousands of people participated in the protests. I would not be surprised if there were 100,000 or more — seriously — and my friends who joined me would agree. We watched along Yan’an Lu, a major road near People’s Square, and the march was massive, it was endless. I’m not sure how long it had been going on when we arrived, but we watched for more than an hour, and it showed no signs of stopping. A steady flow of people, four lanes wide, moving at a rather quick pace. That’s a ton of people. And after an hour, when we were leaving, there were thousands more appraoching our spot, with no end in sight. More than 5,000 — that makes me laugh.

Speaking of laughing, there was plenty of that going on. There was no tension in the air — at least not at this early point in the demonstration — and the atmosphere reminded me more of a St. Patrick’s Day parade than anything else. Yes, there was chanting. But there was also smiling. Protesters talked on their mobile phones. Many appeared to be simply out on a morning stroll, enjoying the nice weather. Several called to me in English: “Come join us.” (Some foreigners, oddly, accepted the invitation.) No one was boiling over with rage. And that made the goings on kind of eerie. What to make of a giggly teenager carrying a sign that reads “Kill Japanese”?

Part of me wants to say it’s refreshing to see the Chinese taking to the streets and demonstrating almost anything. But there is something sad — and more than a little scary — to see Chinese chanting and marching, proudly displaying placards emblazoned with the phrase “Never Deny History.” But the irony, unfortunately, is obviously lost on those people. And we can’t blame them — they grew up learning from Chinese textbooks and being taught to hate Japan.

[NOTE: Although the portion of the protest I witnessed was decidedly peaceful — that is if you ignored the violent phrasing on the banners — reports from other areas of the city showed that Japanese businesses in Shanghai didn’t fare so well. Friends of mine saw Japanese restaurants and shops vandalized with graffiti and broken windows. Another friend, who stayed with the march until the end — the Japanese consulate — estimated a crowd of 30,000 at the terminus. He said it was relatively calm, as far as protests go, and that the consulate building itself went largely undamaged thanks to a blockade of police that kept the crowd at bay … (UPDATE: Or maybe not.)]

Click here for photos of today’s anti-Japan march in Shanghai.

[UPDATE: Video clips of the march are here, here and here.]

[UPDATE II: On his blog, New York Times Shanghai bureau chief Howard W. French has a story he filed from the protests. He also has photos of some of the violence and vandalism that I did not witness at the portion of the march I attended. Also, The Observer has a great piece that puts the protest in perspective and also describes some of the ugliness that went on in Shanghai on Saturday.]

[UPDATE III: Simon, as usual, has a good rundown of what the blogosphere is saying about all of this. Running Dog weighs in here and here. Philippe Roy has some excellent images of the protests. Fons provides an overview of the events and talks about the Chinese media’s silence. Ian has a first-hand look at the march. Myrick got out of the dentist’s office just in time to take it all in. And Gawker Media’s tabloid-style blog Sploid gives the protests decidedly tabloidish play.]

04.16.2005, 3:50 PM · Observations, Photos, Politics, Video


  1. NY Times story already on it:

    I personally saw a lot of Japanese businesses get smashed up pretty badly. A few restaurants on Huahuai Lu, and whole bunch of businesses and signs down in Gubei/Hongqiao. You got the whole range — smiling day-trippers talking into cellphones, chatting, eating ice cream, occasionally repeating slogans, and the harder core that came with spraypaint, rocks, militant banners, and teaching their young children to hate Japan.

  2. Well,I can only say most people are not in favor in this demonstration.We think it’s meaningless, just a way to release the unsatisfaction to the white-wash history book issue and other unhuman thing did by right-wing Japanese.Chinese people are not against Japanese people.We never think things in that way. We hope Japanese could show more respect to us,especially to all the victims.I didn’t go to the demonstration. Those who smash the Japanese shops and restaurants are too bad! I don’t even think Chinese people would have done that!Some people guess maybe it’s some anti-government peosons…..well,I don’t know,but I know our government IS and has been taking every effort to keep in friendly and good relationship with Japanese. I just don’t know why Japanese always do something to against us….

  3. Dan, you should read this book called Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen.
    i don’t think CNN should say anything about chinese text books while americans have history book broblems of their own (for example, genocide of Native Americans)

    and Bonnie, i don’t think all these protests are meaningless; in fact i think protest is a good way to attract international attention (just think about how South Africa ended apartheid)

    and to nobodyexactly, incorrect history and political teachings happen everywhere, not just in china but also in america. but at least we have good reasons to hate ruthless murderers who killed 300000 people including innocent civilians and raped 20000 women in nanjing (cnn people call it an agression but in my ap history class we call it a genocide).

  4. For those who speak with only knowledge from something like CNN, for those who spectated but had no idea about the Massacre in Nanjing, for those who were surprised to see “China” was engraved on the World War II Memorial in DC and asked if China was really involved in WW II…, you’re encouraged to study more before speaking out.

  5. Bonnie says “Chinese people are not against Japanese people”. Really? I have lived in China for 3 years and all I ever hear from Chinese friends, acquaintences, etc. is “I HATE JAPANESE PEOPLE”. Some have clearer reasons than others but all seem firmly resolved on the issue. My Japanese friends are a bit disturbed by the whole thing. Besides their natural aversion to conflict, they don’t feel responsible for what happened in the 1930s and 40s any more than I feel responsible for use of atomic weapons against the Japanese.

  6. My wife and I saw the march today from two separate vantage points. I saw one large group begin from Jiao Tong University and head towards the embassy. She picked up with the marchers at Gubei Road and saw them chanting, burning things, and beating three Japanese men.

    Click here for some of her pictures:



  7. beating three Japanese men.
    I like it kinky!

  8. “they don’t feel responsible for what happened in the 1930s and 40s any more than I feel responsible for use of atomic weapons against the Japanese.”

    us’s use of atomic weapons is to end the war and the japanese’s horrible deeds. besides, US rebuld japan entirely afterwards. without US, japan wouldn’t be as economically superior than other countries. however, japanese’s murdering in china is a form of genocide. it is no more different than the nazis’s elimiation of the jews. not only japan did not apologize, now japan is denying all this. how can you expect us to not hate the japanese when almost every family had been effected by the japanese?

  9. we are mad about how the japanese didn’t admit to their crimes. do see the germans honoring the nazis? the japanese actually honors their war criminals, those who could rape 20000 girls and murder 300000 people in a week.

    in my history class we never learn those horrible things the japanese did. maybe you haven’t either. here’s a lesson for you:


  10. If Japan wants better relations, it should not have approved the controversial history book that whitewashes its warcrimes, it should stop its support for Taiwan separatists and should cease their plans to drill in China’s East China Sea (Diaoyu islands).

  11. comment to dan:
    we learned about nazis here in america. does that mean america is teaching us through its text books to learn to hate the germans? its actually not in text books that chinese first learned about the japanese, instead its through family history. actually our generation’s hatred toward the japanese has lessened compared to my parents’ and my grandparents’ generation who had witness and experienced the terrifying scenes.

    i think everything needs an ending, a closure. but right now, japan’s genocide does not have an ending. in fact, japan is denying that the event did not even happen, does not even have a beginning.

  12. Dan, I’m curious about why you used this turn of the phrase?
    (Some foreigners, oddly, accepted the invitation.)

  13. to April16,when you hear people”I hate Japanese”,we mean the right-wing government,because it’s the government that has done so much thing hurting the Chinese people.I’ve told you,us Chinesee have been trying to keep in good relation with the Japanese but the Japanese government always hurts us.I think anyone who knows the history will understand WHO we refer to.
    Once I was young,I love listening to Japanese songs and watching Japanese catoons,especially the ROBOT CAT(maybe it’s do ra a mo in Japanese).But when I grow older,I see so much happening throughout the world(especially some events were not on air in China),I realised the Japanese government showed no respect to us Chinese…..at that time, I felt I have little interest in Japanese stuff,music,cartoons… because the political reasons,if they still carry on like this,no one will like them!
    One of my friend is a Japanese,actually her mother is Chinese and her father is Japanese.Her parent fell in love though they are not of the same nationality,and she is my best friend.I don’t bear any grudge to her,because she is nice and eager to bring the peace to the Chinese and Japanese both.One thing you should know,they all know the true history.
    If you don’t admit the history and even show no respect to the victim part,what respect do you deserve?
    I admit China isn’t as prosperous as Japan,isn’t as strong as Japan,but it doesn’t mean we should be abused!
    I feel sorry to those Japanese who feel disturbbed.But it’s their government who should be to blame on! But I know some Chinese are killed in restaurants in Japan just because they revealed their nationality by accident!What will you say about that?Killing!!!What else can they Japanese do?!Please don’t disturb our life!Give us peace!!!Give our island back! Leave our Taiwan alone!

  14. An appropriate Chinese saying: “Distant relatives cannot be compared with a dear neighbour!”

    Had Japan and its people have the foresight and not blinded by extremism and value China as a “dear” neighbour, they would not have resorted to all sorts of provocations and above all, engineered a despicable pretext to invade China and brought horrendous sufferings to the Chinese people.

    Japan should know that it was the only country in Asia to have surrendered unconditionally to a group of foreign powers and kowtowed to the awesomeness of nuclear weapons to which its militarism was utterly shattered forever. Its hope to revive militarism and rearmament would one day made Japan so vulnerable that Hiroshima and Nagasaki (where the two American atomic bombs exploded) would appear to be a Sunday picnic by comparison!

    Yet today, Japan, with the tacit approval of hegemonic United States, is acting as its hatchet man to undermine a peaceful and rising China which regrettably leads to the present confrontation between the two countries.

    United States and Japan are picking on China as a convenient scapegoat when things go terrible wrong in their respective countries. What a way to divert public attention when their administrations go wrong for lack of able leadership, failed management, wisdom and direction.

    China has risen and we ought to be proud, if the hundred years of its past history be of any guide that it has overcome.

  15. We never grew up learning from Chinese textbooks and being taught to hate Japan. We grew up learning from textbooks the facts. We never required paying back the blood debt. What we want is their apology, their respect to history.

  16. To voice a opinion is a good thing. And peaceful demonstrations could cause Japans government to rethink its position or at least start a thinking process among Japanese citizens. But what is gained with vandalising Japanese shops and consulates, showing ‘I hate Japan’ posters? This will cause a act of defiance in Japan and worsen the already bad relations.

    Everything can be seen in two ways. If you want to read some opinions of Japanese people about the protests go to this site: http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=popvox&id=565

    Some of the previous posters mentioned Taiwan. I discussed the matter with a acquaintance who is Taiwanese. He told me the last thing they want is to become a part of China now. So why don’t let them make the decision by them self? A referendum would show the will of the Taiwanese people. But I guess the Chinese government wouldn’t like the outcome of such a referendum.

  17. You talked about use referendum of Taiwanese people to decide wether they would like to stay with China or be seperated. Actually there’s a similar referendum conducted previous to the presidential election in Taiwan, and there’s not a majority supported seperation. There’re people who want peace and unity. There’s a whole party in Taiwan wants that. Go check the news.

  18. Noone is blameless. Protest against yourself.

  19. Ask the Taiwanese people again - this time without threatening them with war!

    Yes they want peace, but unity???

  20. On Apr 17, 2005 5:10 PM, Fancy said:

    We never grew up learning from Chinese textbooks and being taught to hate Japan. We grew up learning from textbooks the facts. We never required paying back the blood debt. What we want is their apology, their respect to history.

    That says it all, really.

  21. As a young generation born in 1980
    ‘s, we acquire unhumanity horrible deeds from not only textbooks, movies but also our grandma and grandpa. All of them witnessed this historical period and some of them suffered from massacre, but at least they are lucky to survive and spend their rest of life in a peaceful country. It reminds me of an old saying: To be a dog in peaceful country is better than a person in continuous war country.

  22. Why did we fight with these insensitive guys who watched this like watching a farce? They’ve always thought they’re more civilized, ever since their ancestors landed Plymouth, since they started genocide toward Indians who had been living on the continent. Wolves are still wolves even they learned to wear clothes of human beings.

    They don’t deserve our respect and attention, at all. Let’s stop the meaningless talking with these illiterate guys. Indecent people come and go, but we always have our own country here, beautiful and everlasting.

    Rock, and Peace

  23. Creds: I am a twenty-something English teacher living in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, China. I am also an American, who was raised in the “dirty-dirty” by two very progressive leftist parents, and who has been shooting and editing video (DI-fucking-Y) for indy media for well on eight years now. I am not afraid to use my real name. Word.

    On Saturday I was visiting Shanghai with a couple of my colleagues (both of them Chinese) when we stumbled upon the protest/march somewhere near People’s Square. I was carrying my “mini” (also a Canon, Dan), and I was likewise urged not to join because of the potential dangers posed to those in possession of Japanese products.

    But, fuck it.

    I now have two DV tapes (all that I was carrying at the time) full of peaceful, energetic “protest porn,” as it is sometimes called. Some of the footage also includes interviews with elderly professors, students, workers, and even one family (Mother, Father, and 8-year old daughter) clad in matching, anti-Japanese product t-shirts.

    At the time I was very much in agreement with those in the protest/march, for reasons I would have hoped I would not have to explain to people. But, alas, Dan, you failed to even mention Nanjing, or the countless rapes, murders, and other brutalities enacted upon the Chinese in the 1930’s and 40’s. You failed to mention the refusal on the part of the Japanese government to honor (in any way) their country’s role in these atrocities—their books still tell a stunningly incorrect version of history. You failed to give any legitimacy to the anger of the Chinese people.

    That being said, I very loosely respect your position. I am still very much a Mandarin student but I understand enough of the language to know when I’m privy to hateful ideologies (I am from the South, after all). There were indeed many anti-Japanese banners, hand-made posters, chants, and apparently violent acts against Japanese people and property (though I never personally witnessed anything physically hurtful). I do honor, as you have, Dan, the unfortunate manner in which many Chinese chose to express their anger. It was not particularly encouraging. In fact, it was kind of ugly.

    None the less, as a product of and participant in a privileged western political context (America has a long history of successful public protest) it would be foolish for me to dismiss this protest/march as simply an exercise in mass racism. I don’t think we westerners, especially we Americans, fully understand the rage that can build up with an over fifty-year absence of justice. Can you imagine denying the holocaust, for example? What if Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Angela Davis, or any of the other black civil-rights leaders were depicted simply as awkward rabble-rousers and troublemakers, unworthy of the praise that they are now given (though not nearly enough) in America? Wouldn’t you be angry?

    And, Dan, I must ask you an honest question because I appreciate your attempts (as a fellow blogger) to experience and chronicle Chinese culture (America is woefully ignorant of the Zhongguo I know). Do you really feel that we have a right to say anything overly critical? As mentioned by a few of the other people who commented on your experience in Shanghai, did not the United States of American rape, murder, and torture over 7 million native-Americans in the run-up to our country’s storied creation? And were you aware, on that note, that the first Native-American museum that publicly acknowledges this atrocity was only recently established in Washington, D.C.? What of this discrepancy, this delay in justice?

    I for one, like you, Dan, am happy to see the Chinese doing anything political with some degree of passion. I’ve noticed, now that China is almost entirely capitalistic, that most Chinese youth care very little about anything but their cell phones (I am constantly confiscating the goddamn things in class). And I also agree that anti-Japanese sayings and behavior ultimately serve no one, and accomplish nothing. But it is important, I believe, to at least realize why that poorly articulated anger exists. It does have a cause, and it must be heard.

    Anger is ugly, but it must be valued. Even Dr. Phil’s sold-out ass is willing to acknowledge the power and importance of anger. If you suppress an emotional response to extreme pressure and violence it will only explode into something much, much worse.

    In this way, the Chinese are rather like a pot of boiling water. We cannot, you and me, ever underestimate the psychological effect that 1930-40’s Nanjing, for example, would have on a person, on a whole country of people. Honoring their struggle during the global events of World War II is a long time in coming.

    The Japanese have work to do. They must work to admit their miserable past behavior, as Germany has in regards to persecution of the Jews, as the Americans should for countless events (Colombia, Vietnam, Iraq, etc…). No country is clean.

    The Chinese, in turn, need to learn, over time, how to express themselves appropriately, and to honor their violence against the Tibetans, the farmers losing land in the countryside, and women. In a country still reeling from Mao’s Cultural Revolution, much more so the more stunning events at Tian’amen Square, it is hopeful to see the new generation of Chinese citizens speaking their mind. Maybe it sounds bad, but like anyone learning a new language, it always will at first.

    Ideological positioning like yours, Dan, is somewhat dangerous, I believe. I don’t mean to seem disrespectful, but you are offering only a Jesus Christ-pose, no real thoughtful appraisal of the protest/march of April 16, 2005. Can you really continue to pat yourself on the back for being so accepting of other people while the Chinese wallow in their own belittlement? Your disaffected, voyeuristic commentary, like blatant racism, is equally as pointless. I believe, also, it is irresponsible.

    Regardless, good luck to you. I disagree with your perspective but I want nothing more than to let you say it how you must. Maybe someday you will give the Chinese that freedom, as well.

  24. Anyone with access to it might want to read Iris Chang’s “The Rape of Nanking: the Forgotten Halocaust of World War II.” In my limited experience, it is an excellent treaties on the Nanjing atrocities, and seems to be fairly well balanced. It’s a pity that Ms. Chang committed suicide last year after fighting depression for so many years - she would appreciate the current fight for respect and acknowledgement by the Chinese people, and continue to be enraged by the response from the Japanese leaders.

  25. I did neglect to mention that book made it clear that the rape of Nanjing was an incredibly horrid massacre. Reading about it was nauseating. And the Japanese response has been enfuriating.
    What Ms. Chang did so very well was try to identify the mindsets involved, explain the situation at the time, and the actions that occured. There was very real horror and debauchery. There was incredible bravery.
    It is history, and it needs to be reported, acknowledged, and resolved, so that we do not repeat it as people or group, and we can move on with life in the future.

  26. I think that what’s really distressing here is that neither the Japanese nor the Chinese understand what they themselves are doing.

    Japanese people nowadays have completely moved beyond WWII. Partly, that is because they ignored the consequences and failed to study or remember what happened, mostly out of a willingness to forget the pain. But since younger people never learned about it, they have no connection to those events at all. They might as well be Korean or even American for all the connection they feel to WWII. Talking about WWII to a young Japanese person is like talking about the revolutionary war to a young American — they’re likely to consider it irrelevant and ancient history…

    From this perspective, Chinese should try to understand that most Japanese people don’t ignore these issues because they are callous or evil, but rather because things have changed and history has moved on. Generations have passed, and most Japanese now just have no knowledge or connection with those events… Japan is a COMPLETELY different country than during WWII, and the Japanese people are completely different too…

    The sad part about this is that Japanese should attempt to understand and study this part of their history in order to prevent such things from happening again in the future, and in order to honor the victims of the WWII Japanese military… They don’t understand the problem anymore though, because for the most part they simply do not understand what happened or why Chinese people are still so upset about it after 50 years….

    On the other hand, Chinese people don’t seem to understand that they are clinging to history. They are like the grandchild of a woman who was raped and killed, but still are obsessed with that event over 50 years later, and blame the grandchild of the killer. Chinese people don’t seem to realize that Japan is a completely different place with completely different people and a completely different way of thinking than during WWII. Yes, there is a very very small group of radical right-wing nuts, but there are probably far more Chinese gangsters in Japan than right-wing nuts!

    What also bothers many western observers is the sense that these demonstrations show a sort of fanaticism reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution. Is it so easy for Chinese people to latch onto a phrase like “Japanese Pigs” and think that it somehow describes reality?

    If they changed their slogans to “Grandchildren of Japanese Pigs — Apologize for the Atrocities of 50 Years Ago!!”, it wouldn’t sound quite so rousing now, would it? But it would surely be more accurate… So Chinese should try to realize that although they do have a good reason to want some acknowledgement and movement on this issue from the Japanese Government, most of the rhetoric against modern Japanese people is groundless…

  27. As a young generation of Chinese grew up with Japanese cartoons and products, my anger vested toward Japanese right wing government was mainly ignited by Junichiro Koizumi’s unapologetically visits to the shrine which is dedicated to war criminals. I don’t understand why Japanese government has to do such stupid thing to remind its Asian neighbors what the imperial military had done 60 years ago. Personally I have an ancestor killed by Japanese, and I learned about the Japanese invasion and other foreign aggressions in school at Mainland China; however what happened in the past didn’t make a dent to my fondness to Japanese cartoons, and I barely harbor any resentment to today’s Japan. I know young Japanese are not responsible for what had done by their grand parents. I just don’t understand why Japanese government has to seed bitterness into the minds of young generation Chinese – like myself. I wonder how the world would respond if neo-Nazis built a shrine for Hitler, and it is visited by German’s prime minister.

  28. moonlight:

    I think you have some misconceptions about just what Yasukuni Shrine and Shinto is all about in Japan…

    First, it is not dedicated to war criminals. All soldiers who have fought for japan are enshrined there, as far as I know. So when people go there, they pay respects to all those who lost their lives fighting for Japan, including those who committed atrocious acts.

    So the issue is really whether it is appropriate to give any respect to ALL people who died fighting for Japan, regardless of what they did that was reprehensible. Or, in other words, should the shrine make a special exception for those who did ‘really bad things’ and have a ceremony un-enshrine them there?

    I think that Japanese should be able to pay respect to everyone who has fought for Japan and died, regardless of what horrible things they did - at least the fact that they fought and died for the country can be respected. Even a murderer can fight and die for his country, and I think that *that aspect* of his actions can be respected, regardless of other evil deeds.

    My point is this: isn’t it ok to leave one shrine for _everyone_ who has died for a country? Or must every country pick and choose such that they only express respect for those who didn’t commit questionable acts?

    Should the U.S. go through all the names on the Vietnam memorial, and scratch out those who were dishonorably discharged or committed atrocities? My opinion is that, no, we shouldn’t - that wall is for all U.S. military who died in Vietnam, and Yasukuni is similarly for all Japanese who’ve died for Japan…

  29. im loving your comments. can i post it on other site? i can’t reach you so ill post it anyways.

    talking about resonance with the audience, you definitely have it man.

  30. the best comment i have seen in my entire life. your words are exactly what i have been trying to say, except my english sucks and no one understands. im loving it. im loving americans.

  31. Ryn Shane-Armstrong, your comment nearly brought me to tears. Finally, someone understands us!

  32. Ryn Shane-Armstrong, again, you are the best, i just wanna give you a big hug!

  33. Trevor Hill,
    “I think that Japanese should be able to pay respect to everyone who has fought for Japan and died, regardless of what horrible things they did - at least the fact that they fought and died for the country can be respected. Even a murderer can fight and die for his country, and I think that *that aspect* of his actions can be respected, regardless of other evil deeds.”

    Then do you also agree that the germans can honor nazis?
    the past is the past but it still hurts, and we have supressed our accumulating anger and grievance for the past 60 years until today.
    and please don’t tell us tht we don’t understand. some people think they know but they don’t.

    “If they changed their slogans to “Grandchildren of Japanese Pigs — Apologize for the Atrocities of 50 Years Ago!!”, it wouldn’t sound quite so rousing now, would it? But it would surely be more accurate… So Chinese should try to realize that although they do have a good reason to want some acknowledgement and movement on this issue from the Japanese Government, most of the rhetoric against modern Japanese people is groundless…”

    groundless? our grandparents lived it, and many of them died for it! obviously you are not the child or grandchild of a raped women, that’s why you seem so indifferent to it! Only we can truly feel our pains, but you can’t, so please don’t make anymore such stupid assumptions and unresponsible remarks!

    we are not seeking revenge, we just want an apology! Japanese committed a crime against humanity, and do you think that they should not at least apologize for it?

  34. i just gotta say again i love your comments. i respect you greatly, more than any American, really, from the bottom of my heart. You are the best American ever. You should run for President and I mean it. anyhow, i posted your comments on my blog. Tell me if you want it off.

  35. quietDesperation:

    I can understand the desire for apologies, but apology from whom? I said that “most of the rhetoric against modern Japanese people is groundless” because most Japanese today had nothing to do with what was done in WWII.

    You can’t really blame the decendant of a criminal for the crime…

  36. Ryn,

    Before you crucify my buddy Dan, maybe step off your soapbox and take a quick reread of his posting. Admittedly he doesnt offer much background on the seeds of this “blanket hatred of all things Japanese”, but his piece is merely his own thoughts on having witnessed the protest itself firsthand. He limits his commentary to the protest alone, for which you accuse him not only of irresponsible reporting, but ideological positioning. This hardly seems fair.

    I was there too, with Dan, and I believe it is possible to likewise note the irony of, for example, a crowd of Japanese product-toting Chinese protesters shouting “patriotic China, boycott Japanese products!”, without ignoring, much less denying, the dark history that inspired such vitriol, or a peoples right to express it or anything else peacefully.

  37. Dear Trevor Hill,

    If you think that the Yakusumi shrine is simply a place for Japanese to practice their traditional religion. You don’t know what you talking about, or you are brainwashed by Japanese right wing propaganda. You only need to visit its website to know that shrine is an epic center to carry on Japanese right wing fascism.

    Here is a quote from BBC news report, by William Horsley, who visited that place. “The Yasukuni Shrine remains a potent symbol of how the Japanese, intoxicated by fascism and coerced by military rule, once collectively lost their reason and were fed fantastic myths, of racial superiority and the Emperor’s divinity.” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/4449005.stm

    If you visit that shrine’s website, it will tell you that the ‘correct version’ of history is in WWII, Japan tried to liberate the Asia from western aggressions.

    No, those solders fought for Japan should not be worshiped, yes they have ceremonial ritual to give worship, they can be forgave for their misled murderous past, but they can not be worshiped as national heroes. Simply black and white.

    If Chinese built a temple to worship its share of aggression, I will dismantle it with my own hands.

  38. Trevor Hill,
    “You can’t really blame the decendant of a criminal for the crime…”

    No we can’t blame them for the genocide in nanjing, but we can blame them for whitewashing history and brainwashing children in schools

    “I can understand the desire for apologies, but apology from whom?”

    An apology from their prime minister for visiting war criminals, an apology from their government for whitewashing history, an apology from whoever put the war criminals in the shrine

  39. “On Apr 20, 2005 5:45 AM, Anonymous” was me, sorry i forgot to write my name

    i agree with moonlight. the japanese have a problem with worshipping their mercenary army. of course they have the right to do it, but it just shows you what they really believe in

    and LAT, we see ironies all the time, but it’s funny that Dan doesn’t note that america, the so-called liberator and freedom lover, allies itself with japan, where mercenary soldiers are honored and worshipped

  40. whoa. ryn, feeling a little self-righteous these days? going a little crazy out there in nantong? what the hell did you read that would spawn such a pandering, i-feel-your-pain polemic? certainly not the same story i read. i have looked through dan’s post several times, trying to find what you found to be so overly critical, so ideological, so — and i can’t believe you actually said this — racist. it seemed as though you were responding to something else entirely, something you read on a right-wing blog, perhaps, that prompted you to unleash your unfounded fury on this page. you criticize the entry for not mentioning the horrors japan inflicted on china some 70 odd years ago. you really think that was necessary? you really think every short blog entry that discusses china/japan relations needs to give a blow-by-blow account of wartime atrocities? the information is out there. japan’s occupation was full of evil, awful horrible things. no reasonable person would deny that. none of my japanese friends deny that. it is one of the many dark periods in human history. it is also a dark period of history that, contrary to what you say, the japanese have, in their own clumsy way, apologized for on many different occasions. obviously, these apologies — the ones that the general chinese population is aware of, at least — have not been issued satisfactorily. could the japanese have done better? yes. most definitely. is anything they do now going to quell the anti-japan fervor running rampant throughout china? doubtful. on the topic of the whitewashing of history in japanese textbooks, i am not familiar enough with these books to comment. i doubt you are, either, ryn. but i have read that the book in question — the one that many people claimed to be marching about — is used in less than one percent of japanese schools. the overwhelming majority of japanese educators denounced that text. should the book even exist? probably not. japan could definitely be handling this situation better. but really, for the purposes of this argument, none of that really matters, because you obviously missed what i thought was the main point of the story — the unmistakable irony of chinese people protesting another nation’s government for denying history, in textbooks or otherwise. no country is clean, ryn. you said it yourself. and this most definitely includes china. much more recently than the japanese invasion, the chinese government has commited atrocities on its own people and others. what do chinese textbooks say about the rape of tibet? about the tens of millions who died under mao’s reign? of the hundreds of thousands — maybe millions — tortured and killed during the cultural revolution? of the hundreds — probably thousands — of students massacred in tiananmen square? when do the victims of those horrors get their official apology from the chinese government? when will chinese children learn about those events — all of the details — in their textbooks? why are there no marches about all of this? i think we all know the answer to that — those of us who aren’t blocked from information about the tiananmen square massacre that is. and i believe that is the point dan was trying to make in the story, the huge irony. don’t you think a lot more young japanese people know about the rape of nanjing than young chinese people know about the invasion of tibet? and, really, what american doesn’t know about the savage way that the native americans were almost entirely killed off? now, are american textbooks perfect? no. of course not. but, in a free society, the information is out there. yes, a book entitled “lies my teacher told me: everything your american history textbook got wrong” exists — and it’s readily available to any american who wants to read it. let me know when china allows a book called “everything your chinese history textbook got wrong” to be published. i won’t hold my breath. now, back to saturday’s protests — i’m all for them. there were many reasons for chinese to march. some indeed marched out of a “blanket hatred for all things japanese.” some marched to show their patriotism. some marched because it was the first time in their life they could march about anything. some marched because they truly feel china is owed something by japan. their anger is real. i didn’t read anything in the story that led me to believe dan thought the protests shouldn’t have been allowed to take place. quite the contrary, any free-thinking person should smile a bit when they see a peaceful protest, regardless of whether they agree with its message. freedom of expression is a beautiful thing. unfortunately, in china, freedom of expression rarely exists — unless it’s in the best interests of the communist government. you haven’t learned that yet in nantong?

  41. As the grandson of Eastern European Jews whose people were systematically murdered by the millions in WWII, I am very sensitive to Chinese feelings about Japanese war crimes. I do wish the Chinese were more factually informed on both Japanese wartime actions and the current attitude among today’s Japanese toward China. From an economic perspective the two nations are great partners, the challenge remains on the social front.

    The post above by Robert Harris makes many valid points so I won’t repeat them, but I also have strong, albeit mixed, feelings about the protest events last Saturday in East China. In a country that for so long has forbidden personal expression of a controversial nature, the sight of 20,000 people openly protesting anything was encouraging. But sadly, it was not an entirely ‘peaceful protest’ afterall. If the Chinese are hoping to advance their civil liberties, they’ll have to do a better job of showing they deserve it.

    I am particularly upset about:
    - Damage done to “Japanese” stlye restaurants in Shanghai that are no doubt owned by innocent Chinese restauranteurs.
    - Denting, scratching, and smashing of windows on a number of Japanese-brand automobiles in Shanghai and Hangzhou owned by Chinese drivers and possibly manufactured by Chinese workers.
    - Intimidation and in some cases physical violence toward unassuming Japanese who are either working/studying in China or here as tourists. In fact, one of my friends was threatened and shoved around by two Chinese nightclub bouncers for no reason until they finally understood he was Korean-American!

    Those who are serious about advancing their cause and seeking Japan’s accountability for its past should also be responsible to prevent the inappropriate violence and vandalism. I don’t think it was wise to smash and splatter the Embassy in Beijing nor the Consulate in Shanghai. That only detracts from the protest and creates a negative perspective of Chinese protestors as being uncontrollable. Besides, that kind of behavior can be used by right-wing Japanese to discredit the intended message. Damaging the property of fellow Chinese is entirely pointless - it makes the government less likely to allow future demonstrations and Chinese citizens less likely to support a protest. As for attacking innocent foreigners, this can never be permitted under any circumstances.

  42. Dan, you are classic

    Reporter: why Muslims hate Americans? Bush: Because they hate our freedom.

    Why Chinese protest against Japanese? Dan: Because Chinese are stupid.

  43. Robert Harris,

    You are off topic. Every nation has its dirty laundry, don’t even get me into what Americans and CIA did in name of spreading democracy, it’s a long dirty list. American school text books do not account the CIA sponsored military coup in Chile which toppled a democratic left wing government, thousands were killed, freedom of speech was muted…. However this is as irrelevant as your accounts of communism atrocities to Chinese people. Communism is the one of the biggest misfortune to Chinese people in the past hundred years, but what CCP did can not discount Japanese war time atrocity. In both cases, ordinary Chinese people were the victims bore the pain. CCP is in debt to Chinese people, however many Chinese people today decide to forgo those episodes, like native Americans decided to not entangle with the history of white people’s brutality, its their choice and in their right, and in my right, I condemn Japanese right wing fascism.

    I agree with your freedom of expression is a beautiful thing. However I want to say the most effectively brainwashed people living in the world that claims to have the freedom of media, like a lot in United Sates…. Propaganda camouflaged under the mask of media freedom is in its most effectiveness, at least in China, people read their government and the media with a health dose of suspicion.

  44. moonlight,

    with each comment you make it becomes more and more clear that you have no idea what the topic is.

    please stop.

  45. Gu, ^o^ Thanks for that great laugh!!

    Lots of great comments, although I don’t see any additional posts from Dan. ???

    So everyone agrees:

    Japan / Japanese soldiers committed great atrocities 60 years ago in Nanjing and should honor the memory of their Chinese victims and pay them more respect.

    China is progressing as a country, and harbors deeply felt communal pain from the atrocities inflicted so long ago that continue to be ignored in the offending country.

    Ain’t nobody gonna give up their Japanese products. (Yes, that is some incredibly poor grammar - do not imitate!!! And OK, yes, it’s not only poor grammar, but incorrect as well, as some people WILL give up the Japanese products…. but not many)

  46. Gu, your common and laugh are disregarded by equally egoistic moonlight. please stop.

  47. hey americans, and all the other foreigners here, what kind of expression would you like to see on our faces?
    maybe we will try our best to show it if there will ever be another rally.
    it seems like if we look mad then some people would say we are one group of angry mob, but if we look relaxed and happy… you saw what dan wrote.
    name one, so you can quit making a big deal out of our faces

  48. I don’t see anything from moonlight is off topic. Quite contrary, most of moonlight’s comments are right on the topic. I can not agree more on the comment regarding brainwishing…. The stupid CCP
    Propaganda Beauro should send its elites to VOA, Fox or other so-called main stream media in US originations to learn what the real efficient propagand is!

  49. thank you to fact.

  50. Anonymous: Your comment is incisive and justified at least to some extent. We are debating the motives and propriety of the emotions and actions of the Chinese protesters here, as well as what they’re upset about - the Japanese atrocities in WWII and the textbooks…

    The fact of the matter is that Chinese people can feel whatever way they want to feel. I’m sure that some foreigners might not understand the depth of feeling in China about the Japanese atrocities in WWII, or the textbook issue, but Chinese can feel whatever they want.

    The issue, I think, is that as soon as people see some violence and real hateful language, e.g. “Japanese dogs”, “Japanese Pigs should die/be killed”, people start to wonder whether this is the same sort of stuff that happened during the cultural revolution, etc…

    I don’t really know how much Chinese people are aware of the horrible mob rule that persisted in the 70’s - maybe someone can enlighten me. But I do know that people outside China have a clear idea of what happened and are wary when mobs get riled up and the police do nothing in China. It looks like the rule of law took a vacation for a day. I saw the pictures of all the cops sitting around on the side of the road doing nothing while those restaurants were busted up. Maybe it was nothing more than a fluke, an exception to the rule, but you have to wonder when you know about history.

    I think the issue with the language is probably even more worrying than the violence. You just don’t see people in modern countries saying “Die, Japanese Pigs” or anything like that, even towards people or nations they can’t stand (unless clear military enemies). It’s pretty scary…

  51. Moonlight makes an interesting point, which I have heard echoed by other Chinese acquaintances—that some Chinese choose to ignore the atrocities committed by their own government, harboring resentment instead for the Japanese. Correct me if Im wrong, Moonlight, but the rationale behind this is that it is ‘worse’ if another country does it? Im asking an honest question.

    To an outsider (Im American), watching a large group of Chinese protest against Japan for many of the same things its own government has done is ironic and confusing, which is what I believe Dan tried to capture in his piece. Again, not to discount or deny the horrors of the Japanese occupation, but to many non-Chinese (and I dare say even some Chinese) the CCP has been no less a villain. Knowing about such periods in recent Chinese history (and since the Japanese occupation) as the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen, and the countless suppressions of rural discontent occurring even today, I am surprised to hear that anyone could “forgo those episodes.” But it is, as you also say, your right, and I dont begrudge you that, and neither I believe does Dan. I see nothing wrong with him noting the irony he perceived in the recent protests. His website is, after all, one mans perspective on his experience in China.

    As an aside, you are correct in noting that the US is not without its own propaganda, however I must agree with Robert Harris. America, for all its propagandized media, still offers significantly more accessible information than can be found here in China. An ignorant American is generally willfully so, because the information is out there, whereas his Chinese counterpart might simply not have access to information that would likely give him a very different opinion of his own country and the world at large.

  52. I agree that some protesters’ mob mentality is ugly as ugliness can get. That should be equally denounced along with fascistic Japanese right wingers. I admit a lot contemporary Chinese are not likable people as they should be, compared to ordinary Japanese, who are members of a society enjoyed 60 years of civil social development. Chinese people like me born in 70s still bear the memory of Cultural Revolution. However China is progressing on right directions on many aspects.

    I only wish some westerns posted on this site and Dan have a sense of morally consistency, while criticizing the protest violence, not blind eyed to Japanese right wing extremists, or American right wing extremists, etc. Chinese legitimate discontent regarding to Junichiro Koizumi’s unapologetically visits to Yasukuni Shrine ought to be respected.

    We live in a global community today. I wish all of us work together to a peaceful global future, in which we endorse the idea of sustainable development, social justice and individual liberty.

  53. To address LAT’s question. Do I think Japanese atrocity is worse than CCP’s atrocity? My honest answer is: Atrocities in any formats are all equally bad, should all be referred as lessons to future.
    My grand parents suffered great deal under both Japanese occupation and CCP’ Cultural revolution, can you honestly answer me that their pain caused by Japanese should be discounted because they were also abused by CCP? The party of Chinese history you don’t know is, the party leader in my grandfathers’ work unit officially restored my grandfathers name, and gave compensation at the end of culture revolution. Such restoration to Chinese suffered was a government’s policy under the ruling of Deng in the 80s. That’s why many Chinese feel a closure to that period of history. I am not a hypocrite, you are a hypocrite.

  54. Moonlight, I am sorry to see the discussion deteriorate to baseless accusations. I asked an honest question. I did not call you a hypocrite, but rather tried to explain why I, and likely other non-Chinese, dont understand your point of view, and offered you an opportunity to set the record straight on your own behalf.

    I do not believe I implied that Japanese acts have been “discounted” by what the Chinese government has done. I urge you to read my comments, and Dans post, with an objective eye.

    Also, I am curious on what grounds you accuse me of hypocrisy. As this is my final comment on this string, I will speak pre-emptively:

    As an American citizen, I am aware of many of the terrible things my country has done, and indeed continues to do, not only to its own citizens, but to the people of other countries. I am saddened and angered by this. However, I am hopeful, because I am equipped with the right to make myself aware, and to speak out if I so choose. I can only hope that someday everyone will enjoy this right. In the meantime, I can only wonder what other phrases or slogans some people in Saturdays rally might have also written on their banners had they felt the freedom to do so, or had more access to information.

    Finally, I noted you seem to be indicating that a resolution on the Japan issue, in your opinion, might be reached, at least in part, with financial reparations. You might find it interesting to read about the US’ own debate of this issue as it relates to the legacy of slavery.

  55. Great to see all the debate and discussion. I couldn’t agree moonlight more. In fact, I am quite happy to see my fellow Chinese stood up for once. Respect is earned, not a given. Why should we care so much about how the rest of the world think about us and what we do in China?? China is progressing, China is a force to be reckon with. China at this moment can say NO clear and loud to anyone. China needs to be more aggressive to pursue her own interests, to learn from the relentlessness of the Europeans during the colonial period and of the Americans after the world war II. It doesn’t matter how others think about us. Only when we have reached the economy strength and prosperities, then we will be looked upon as “Civilized”.

  56. YOU GO !!! Moonlight, Give em all !! A big round of applause to you !! By the way, do I sense a little softer tone from the westerns commenting here?? They still may not understand us at all. WHO CARES?? For all I care is now they know China has people like moonlight who is not afraid to stand up and fight back !! BRING IT ON !!

  57. Wow. Those may be the scariest comments yet.

    Isn’t blind nationalism such as Henry’s what allows horrific events such as the Japanese Invasion to happen in the first place?

  58. LAT, who is one charging Ryn “soapbox”, just because he showed some empathy to Chinese feeling. Your explanation well delivered. You are not hypocrite if you think you are not. Happy now? You still haven’t responded my answer yet? I enjoy and respect Dan for most of his posts, he tried his best to be fair, however sometimes, his 6 foot(5?7?) tall-short hair-white American male ego slips.

    All I want to point out is what had in the past, let it is pass. It’s what happening right now in this era, 21st century I must fight against, doesn’t matter with Japanese, Americans, or Chinese.

  59. hennry, I appreicate your support. But I am not a Patriotic Chinese to any political body. We should all be honest to ourselves and others. People are equal.

  60. i am tired. i am going to sleep.

  61. Greta:

    Isn’t the pursue of National Energy Interests such as to secure one of the biggest oil reserve what allows horrific events such as the American + British Invasion of Iraq to happen in the first place?

    The result?? “Civilized” world secured energy source for generations while hundreds in Iraq dying everyday.

    So you criticize my nationalism of looking after China’s interests is blind and dangerous??

    Oh Oh Oh.. I forgot. Because we are NOT in the category of ” Free World ” so we are not entitled to spread ” Freedom and Democracy ” Excuse my ignorance.

  62. moonlight, are you even reading the comments addressed to you?! Some people are trying to have a constructive discussion, and you are taking it very personally. Foreigners come to this site to learn about China, I suggest you take this opportunity to engage in a constructive discussion. Why don’t you participate in the “global community” by working together to increase our understanding of each other? Surely this is more useful than angry name-calling.

  63. sorry, I try to be more engaging with discussion when I am more awake. I probably sounded angry but I am not angry at all. It just happens sometime when I write my words tend to be more harsh than I wanted. good day to all you guys over there. This is 3.00 am in Madison, WI.

  64. Having read all the comments, I see a trend here. Chinese ‘patriots’ see someone who might be somewhat critical of weekends’ protest — obviously, because the critics are Western, are anti-China and want to keep it down in favour of Japan. I think these nationalists need to calm down, step back, and see what people are really saying. For one, no one is denying that Japan’s invasion and subsequent atrocities committed in China were anything less than horrible and reprehensible. Second, Japan is not blameless in how they have dealt with their history. No one’s perfect. Third, the mob behaviour does a disservice to the Chinese people. You know how to behave better than that. We would respect you much more, too. Respect is not earned by knee-jerk responses and nationalistic posturing.

  65. Henry: Please recall that before/during/after the US invaded Iraq, millions of “civilized” Americans took to the streets to protest their government’s unjust actions. And when they protested, they didn’t destroy others’ property or attack innocent bystanders. It’s not about economic strength and prosperity — it’s about decency.

  66. Moonlight, what are you sorrying for?? Sorry for speak out how you exactly feel that annoyed a few people here?? Well, THAT’S JUST TOO BAD! Let them be. I remember a great American President used to say ” Oh this issue, you are either with us or against us ” Oh WAIT !!… I guess we can’t say that because we are Chinese, we don’t have the freedom of speech in China.

    Andrea, did I hear you say No one’s perfect ?? Oh, let me take a look again, I am taking out of content. You said No one is perfect when you were talking about Japan in how they have dealt with their history. Aha… Let’s see the third point you made “Third, the mob behavior does a disservice to the Chinese people. You know how to behave better than that” Oh…. when a few mobs out of that hundred thousands marched behave badly then it’s a discredit and disservice to the entire Chinese people?? Where is the theory of No one is perfect this time around?? “You know how to behave better than that”, well exactly what kind of the better behave do you expect?? and mind me asking who do you think you are to expect ” Better Behavior ” from the Chinese??

    Respect is not earned?? Well, Ask me if I care !! The point I want to cross is, China is changing and Chinese people are changing. STOP commenting on our nationalism and start to understand and work with it whether you like or not. It’s not going to go away.

  67. I for one find it’s interesting that every time when Chinese protest against Japanese government for denying/whitewashing the past attrocities, there are always people popped out and pointed fingers saying: your government isn’t better than Japanese government. Your government has engaged in 64, CR and many other attrocities in China.
    Truth be said that Chinese government is as hypocritical as Japanese government. Both of them try to avoid the past wrong doings. But just because Chinese government is same hypocritical doesn’t exculpate Japanese government’s behaviour, worship war criminals, change text books and all that.
    On a side note, Japan actually apologized to China more than once, Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and Kakuei Tanaka have apologized to China in open statement. What Japanese government is doing right now is no doubt infuriate, but I really hope to see more Chinese have this attitude to right-wing Japanese: you know what, we know what you have done and it’s undeniable, now fuk off because we are going to move on.

  68. It suits the CCP to pretend that Japan has never apologised though.

  69. Henry, I apologized is because Pelham was fair. I did miss some well intended points addressed to me due to my short patient. And there are tons full of misconceptions westerns have about Chinese people. We ought to address those misconceptions patiently. Pelham is right; name calling doesn’t facilitate constructive discussion. Although, I don’t think I was the one start with it.

    Address to LAT. I might miss your points, but you do too. The resolution on the Japan’s issue is not financial retribution. Although to those survivors of comfort women, slavery labors etc. traveled to Japan to lawsuit against Japanese government, Japanese government shall seriously and sincerely deal with their demands. Unfortunately too often I heard their search for justice were turned down and discarded, and that only strength the impression that Japan is denying the past, and inflict Chinese nationalism or Korean nationalism.

    The real resolution to Japan’s issue is Japanese government and society, and international community must constrain Japanese right wing activities, it is strong political factor in Japan’s system. The first step is Junichiro Koizumi should apologize and stop visit to Yasukuni Shrine. Please do not inflict the old scar any more.

    I totally agree with Z. What happened in the past by Japanese or CCP are undeniably bad. However let’s move on. But both Japanese nationalism and Chinese nationalism or Korean nationalism must be fought against, because these are factors are interacted in a vicious cycle sliding down to bottom, however the ball is in Japan’s hand and westerns hand, who still enjoy much stronger economic and political position in the world, its much easier for the stronger party to take an initiative to promote good will. Chinese ordinary people were undeniable victims, and today they still generally look upon to foreigners with admiration, especially to people from developed nations. I think you all have first hand experience how friendly Chinese are. People are much easier to be persuaded or educated with smile and patient, and this is true wherever you go

  70. Henry Huang, I rest my case.

  71. Mr. Harris,

    The word “soapbox” has been mentioned several times on this website, and at least twice it has been personally attached to my name. I find this subtly amusing for reasons that have nothing to do with the current discussion. If you’ll go with me for a moment…

    Recently I implemented a new lesson plan in several of my English classes whereby at the beginning of the day one or more students may stand, quite literally, on a wooden box and address their fellow students directly. I call it (surprise), “The soapbox.” This is done, of course, to encourage a sense of intellectual freedom. I want my students—my very Chinese students—to feel that they can say whatever is on their mind and in whatever way they see fit. It has come with mixed success.

    (By the way, the actual “soapbox” is a shipping container left in my dormitory apartment by the Japanese teacher who lived there before me. This is also amusing for its metaphorical implications, I think.)

    Anyway, I don’t mind your criticisms. In fact, I would like to thank all those individuals who have praised me as well as those who have not. Dialogues of this sort are sometimes heated but I believe they are necessary for true understanding.

    But Mr. Harris, why do you feel the need to impugn my character? With all of your not-so-subtle derisions of me (some very artfully done, I must say) I had a difficult time understanding the specifics of your comment. So, I now ask, was it really necessary?

    For the record, I very much enjoy the writings of Dan Washburn. I have followed his journeys from afar and I have appreciated his wit. He reminds me of a younger David Foster Wallace, but with a lot more stir-fry. His writings, I will also admit, did actually play a small part in my decision to come to China. I initially found myself very drawn to China because of charming stories like those told here on Shanghai Diaries.

    For these reasons, among others, I will always be grateful to Dan Washburn, and I will always be honest to him, as well. I was raised to be honest, and to respond to those people your respect the most with the best you have to offer. That’s what I attempted to do, Mr. Harris.

    I tried very hard in my previous response to consider ever angle, every position. One of those angles, naturally, was the perspective and original motivation (which I consider to be ultimately very good) of Dan Washburn. I had no intentions of undermining his attempts to describe the events of April 16, 2005. I hope that he will continue thinking and talking about such things.

    It was his methodology that I found worrisome. To report on the protest/march in Shanghai and not remind folks of Nanjing or the subsequent Japanese denial of that history is rather like discussing the sinking of the Titanic and forgetting to mention the iceberg! It’s bad form. So, I tried to address these worries in the most accurate and generous way that I could.

    I refer you to the following excerpts from my previous statement (please re-read for yourself if you are so inclined):

    “That being said, I very loosely respect your position…”

    “And, Dan, I must ask you an honest question because I appreciate your attempts (as a fellow blogger) to experience and chronicle Chinese culture…”

    “Ideological positioning like yours, Dan, is somewhat dangerous, I believe. I don’t mean to seem disrespectful, but you are offering only a Jesus Christ-pose, no real thoughtful appraisal of the protest/march of April 16, 2005…”

    I think from these three excerpts it is quite clear that I am trying to avoid simple name-calling. I think it is quite clear that I respect Dan Washburn enough to respond thoughtfully and carefully. Do you disagree?

    But you, Mr. Harris, chose not show me the same consideration in your writing. You chose a much more sarcastic and bitter route. These are excerpts from your response to me:

    “whoa (sic). ryn (sic), feeling a little self-righteous these days? going (sic) a little crazy out there in nantong (sic)? what (sic) the hell did you read that would spawn such a pandering, I-feel-your-pain polemic?.” (This was the first sentence, as you well know.)

    “on (sic) the topic of the whitewashing of history in japanese (sic) textbooks, i (sic) am not familiar enough with these books to comment. i (sic) doubt you are, either, ryn (sic).”

    “freedom (sic) of expression is a beautiful thing. unfortunately (sic), in china (sic), freedom of expression rarely exists—unless it’s in the best interests of the communist (sic) government. you (sic) haven’t learned that yet in nantong (sic)?”

    Am I to take it, then, Mr. Harris, that you feel that I am a self-righteous panderer, prone to polemics, who has not read the Japanese textbooks in question, and who has not yet learned some very valuable lesson in Nantong (a knowledge you seem to have an abundance of, I suppose)? Is this right? Is this what you are trying to say to me?

    The truth is, I would prefer to speak to the issues at hand. There are many things for which we would agree, actually, and on the things we would not agree I feel fairly confident that I could school your ass six ways from Sunday.

    So, if you want to talk to me, Mr. Harris, you best change your tone. Dig?

  72. Ryn Shane-Armstrong,


  73. You are right to point out that Dan did not give background on the roots of Chinese resentment for Japan. Accuse him of omission. Fair enough. I personally disagree that this necessarily fails to give legitimacy to Chinese feelings, but you are certainly entitled to your opinion. However, the condescension and implication of your closing sentences disappoint me: “I disagree with your perspective but I want nothing more than to let you say it how you must. Maybe someday you will give the Chinese that freedom, as well.” Who exactly do you think you are? Who do you think Dan is? Instead of using the ‘comments’ section to offer a supplement to his post including what you felt he missed, you took it a step further and assumed the worst of him. How dare you speak to his motivation for him?

    Frankly I’m impressed that Dan has managed to stay above this all, as a read through the comments illustrates the general futility of offering a point of view.

  74. Creds?

    Dirty-dirty? (and yes, I know to what you refer)




    I weep for Ryn’s students. Although at least I can be sure they’ll know when to capitalize appropriately. Thanks for making Robert Harris’ post legible!

  75. I’m sorry, but I just keep thinking about the situation in Tibet, their has been references to the “right wing Japanese government”, and China’s government is some how in a position to preach about human rights?

  76. To those who care,

    Once again, for the record, I have nothing but respect for Dan Washburn. In over a year of reading his thoughts I have only commented this once. I just feel very strongly about this issue, about telling the full story.

    Not discussing Nanjing and the Japanese response is a massive error on Dan’s part. Were Dan Washburn still working as an award-winning journalist in Georgia I have no doubt that his former employee (assuming they’re not owned by conflicting business interests) would be embarrassed by such a mistake.

    And it is a mistake that has ramifications beyond this website! It is a mistake that continues, I believe, an unecessary stereotype of Chinese people, and, more importantly, Chinese activists.

    I would love to see another mass movement in China, a movement of conscience. But it will never happen unless we fully appreciate their unique socio-political circumstances. We must be honest about what they do and why, no?

    So, though I understand why you might feel that it is condescending (that was not my intention), I continue to stand by this statement:

    “I disagree with your perspective [Dan Washburn] but I want nothing more than to let you say it how you must. Maybe someday you will give the Chinese that freedom, as well.”

    As for the remarks about my use of the vernacular (“Dig,” “Word,” “Dirty-dirty,” etc.), I offer you this quote from Yeats:

    “Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.”

    You’ll have to forgive the obvious sexism in this statement. Yeats, like the Chinese, was merely a product of his time. And the wisdom of Yeats, like the wisdom of the Chinese, should be understood on those terms.

    But, maybe I’m just a douchebag, as suggested by another contributor. Maybe I’m a pandering, polemic, ignorant, douchebag.

    (If you have any other choice words for me, group, now is the time.)

    So, I’ll bow out. It is clear that I have over-stayed my welcome.

    God forbid another contributor ever say anything even remotely critical of Dan Washburn! God forbid he try, sincerely, to point out a ridiculously grand omission! And God forbid he forget his place among the cyber-space elite!

    Yours in finality,

    Ryn fucking Shane-Armstrong

  77. All you had to do was point out the omission. The leap you took to accuse Dan of racism, and your painstakingly crafted and repeated defenses of this baseless indictment, have baffled me.

  78. To Val, Its undeniable that the current human rights conditions in China, including Tibet, have a big gap to catch to the contemporary developed nations standards. If majority Tibetans want their independency, I would feel very sad, but the other Chinese shall respect their choice, after all, the planet earth is not going to loose a piece of land. However, I want to note to Westerns, don’t be even surprised to hear that in these days many Tibetans don’t even want independency. Dalai Lama himself said publicly several times and stated in his biography published in the west that he is not seeking Independency, because economically it’s not going to work. However what he said fell into daft to West media’s ears. And also do not even be surprised to see, if you visit some Tibetans home, Chairman Mao’s portrait is posted next to Buddhism images, do you know why? Because before the 50s, Tibet was not exactly a Shangri-La Pleasantville which west media want people to believe. It was a slavery feudal society, people at the bottom benefited from communistic system appreciate what Chairman Mao did. But off course, this can not excuse the human right abuse have done to Tibetans, just like whatever how bad CCP is, can not excuse Japanese WWII atrocities, and their current right wing activities. The Chinese government should restore some monasteries destroyed in the past, and apologize for what it had done. However I wonder whether any western noticed, just yesterday 80 Japanese congressional legislators visited Yakusumi Shrine again, at the peak of Japan-China conflict, and as usual this visit caused protest among the South Korean media.

    At least China’s human rights condition is under a lot of international scrutiny these days, however while west media bashing China’s human rights record (legitimate bashing), I wish west media stand up to condemn Japanese right wing too, that’s what I call moral consistency.

    And also I want unlock a big misconception western media carrying, that CCP is promoting anti-Japanese sentiments to deviate internal conflicts. Much to the contrast, CCP is a big friend to Japanese government. If west media has its honesty and diligence, they should dig into the facts and history instead of serving as a Japanese politician’s echo chamber.

    First, the central government wants anything but to concentrate on economical development, that requires peaceful internal and external condition. Already there are lots of internal stress, the last they want is the external conflict. They want to maintain good economic tie with Japan. The protest was started from the bottom and pushed upward for government acknowledgment.

    Second, historically, CCP was the biggest beneficiary of Sino-Japanese War. Before the Xian incident Dec.1936 ( KMT general captivated Jiang Kai She, the head of Republic of China, pressed him to give up fights against CCP and put attentions to fight to Japanese), CCP military base was on the verge of extinction, but because that incident, they escaped its doom’s day, and late on mushroomed its military capacity during the anti-japanese war, and eventual defeated KMT in the later on civil war. After establishment of PRC, to compete with ROC for international recognition, Chairmen Mao and Zhou En Lai very conveniently signed a diplomatic treaty with Tokyo to forgo the financial retribution in the name of Chinese people, Ala, that is why I emphasis ordinary Chinese are the true victims.

    Third, China and Japan actually enjoyed very good relationship in the 80s. At the time the biggest movie stars were not Koreans nor Americans, they were all Japanese soap opera stars. My favors cartoons were all made in Japanese. School text book and controlled news media talked about war, but always tailed with a sentence that “China and Japan enjoy the a thousand year long friendship before the war, what happened was Japanese Militants fault, and ordinary Japanese were victims too.” Something likes that. CCP government never bothered to settle up a memorial day and a place to memory the around 23 millions died because the war. Beside of Nanjing massacre, they never bothered to investigate many other smaller scale massacres occurred around the country. I never hear any CCP leader pay a visit to the Nanjing massacre museum. Ala. Speechless.

    It was till the mid of 90s, the government started to loose control over the media, ordinary people in China start to pay attention to Japanese right wing activities. Before that most people didn’t even realize China and Japan still have a territorial dispute over the DiaoYu island.

  79. the above post is by Moonlight

  80. To Moonlight, thankyou for your response. I’m from the United States and I’m sure that I am ignorant to so many issues involving the complex society of China. I came apon this site through doing a key word search, using the words China, Japan, Tibet. It is truelly amazing with regards to the power of the internet, that I can sit here at my keyboard here in my home in Colorado, and communicate with people from a different country.

    I am a practicing Buddhist. My main teacher is an 82 year old Tibetan monk who escaped Tibet after the invasion many decades ago. He has been banned by the Chinese government to enter back into Tibet to see his family. Although in the last few years, his sister was given permission by the Chinese government to leave Tibet, in which she was able to see her brother for periods of time in northern India. My buddhist teacher has been living in the United states for many years now, and he recently became a U.S. citizen. He is part of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddism, the same as the Dalai Lama.

    As far as the picture of Chairman Mao’s portrait placed next to images of the Buddha, (what you’ve heard about that could just be propaganda by the Chinese government). Geshala, my teacher, believes Buddhist imagery should be only used in a religious context. He has been critical of the use of Buddhist imagery in my own country, it has become very chic in now to use buddhist objects and imagery simply as a form of decoration, in restaurants, expensive homes…and the meaning of these objects are lost apon the people that are using them.

    Referring to Tibet in the 1950’s as “a slavery fuedal society” I feel is a distortion that has been used by the Chinese government to justify their invasion of Tibet and to frame it into their term as “the liberation of Tibet”. The Chinese government destroyed all but 13 of the 6000 monestaries in Tibet. Reports of people who have escaped Tibet still speak of persecution, people being imprisoned, tortured and executed for their beliefs. There are reports of children as young as six years old being abused. The Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyl Nylma, who is believed to be the riencarnation of the Tenth Panchen Lama was kidnapped by the Chinese Government at the age of six along with his family. The Tibetan goverment in exile believes that he is somewhere in China under house arrest, but they don’t know where his exact location is. The yound Panchen lama, along with his family have been missing for over six years.

    In my own country, wiith regards to the Invasion of Iraq, I believe that my goverment misled the people. Exagerated the threat of Iraq to justify their actions. I remember during this time, their was a lot of anti-american protests worldwide, and some of them began to take on a tone of being more of an attack on the american people themselves, than actions of our government. Americans being referred to as nazis as an example. I think this just made more people in the U.S., in the post september 11th envioroment, more scared of the outside world, and more willing to believe the Bush goverment stance that we were in imminent threat from an attack by Iraq.

    My father is a retired Air Force Colonel, he was in the Viet Nam war, and taught military history and the Air Force Academy. He is not a passivist, he beleived that we had to go into Afganistan. But he did not support The Bush administration with regards to declaring war on Iraq. I remember him saying to me once “America should defend democracy, we shouldn’t attack people for democracy”. He felt a large part of the Bush Administration’s reasoning for attacking Iraq revolved around oil.

    During our last presidental elections, Senator John Kerry was attacked by supporters of Bush for his actions of critizing the government with regards to the Viet Nam war, and human rights abuses against the Viet Nam people. My father felt that Viet Nam was an unjust war and that John Kerry speaking out was very noble. In the United States we are currently being polarized by the culture wars, and those on the side of Bush described John Kerry as being unpatriotic, and I’m sure they would feel that my father is umpatriotic as well.

    I think my previous post was also a reflection of an embarassment of my own government for it’s preaching to the world about human rights, when there are so many actions of my country that are a contradiction to human rights. Despite my critical attitudes about China with regards to actions towards Tibet, I have a tremendous amount of respect for China. The more open and democratic a society China becomes, the better it will be for the Tibetan people as well. Right now the United States has imposed so much of it’s will on the rest of the world and there is a need for other super powers to emerge to provide more of a balance. I believe that China is one of the countries that has that potential.

  81. Val,

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful comment.

  82. I agree with you J Zhang.

  83. eyedance, well said.

  84. Henry, China is progressing for better indeed.

  85. Fancy, yes to seek truth is glorious.

  86. Arale,

    I agree people need to study more about Chinese history.

  87. Ming, Your tone and remards remind me the stereotype of CCP high level officials. :-) No offend please and have a good weekend.

  88. to VAL,Chinese government has never said that we would be as influential as U.S. does.I’m afraid the way you say may make the western media think China has the potential to be a threat to U.S.,and that’s the most unreasonable word I’ve ever heard.Chinese want peace!We just want peaceful life.That’s why we’re working hard to improve the economic…….

  89. LOL. Anonymous or moonlight. Well, I disagree that Chinese government lost control of the media. I think the government actually encourages the media to publicize more of the bad part of the right wing movements in Japan in order to deviate people’s attention to external problems from the internatl problems.Take the text book for example, although it’s irritating that they deny the history, but there is only one county in the country adopt this book and looks like the domestic media only mention this slightly in the report. Also, the government did take some actions to press down the demonstration before it happened, all the major bbs recieved warning from PSB that any topics related with the demonstration will be deleted, and I think China Telecom (or Unicom) sent sms to its users persuading them not to participate in the demonstration, but it did let it happen since it’s in line with the government’s will.

  90. To Val, I suggest you go to Tibet and live there for at least one year to find the truth. As I know, no former slaves (more then 90 percent of its population) left Tibet with Dalai Lama in 1950s. Dalai and his people in India represent only those at top of the pyramid of the society. So I don’t think your teacher will tell you how slaves thought. CCP has done so many bad things in Tibet but they also done a plenty of good things. We must be fair. Isn’t it?

  91. Z, I think almost everyone knows that only every small number schools use the controversial text books. This is not the point. However the very fact that the text books got approval from the Ministory of Education (? Can’t remember the exact name) implies a formal endorsment from the Japanese government. I can undertsand why people in China and other Asia countries feel argry….

  92. Anonymous, just to be fair that I’m a local and I share the feelings of my fellow men, but let’s not get carried away by the anger. There are so many angles about this whole anti-Japanese sentiment.

  93. Val, thank for your response. I am living in the very deep blue liberal hotbed Madison, WI, a city Tommy Thomson called “a place twenty square miles surrounded by reality”. Near Madison, I think its Deerfield, there is a fair size Tibetans community living there, and they come to Madison to rally for their cause sometimes. And I am very proud that my school uw-madison, has the best Tibetans study program outside of Tibet in the world. I even personally witnessed the presence of his holiness, Dalai Lama, when he came to school to give speech. I was deeply deeply disturbed when I learned, by the before and after image of the ruins of a thousand old Tibetan teaching Monastery, what PLA had done to Tibet. I was well informed the hostilities Tibetans have toward Chinese, then the winter of 2000, I went to Tibet, though I was only in the part called Front Tibet, Tibet religious territory is traditionally divided into Front Tibet and Back Tibet, Panchen Lama is more worshiped than Dala in Front Tibet, my Tibetan tour guide brought me to a local home to enjoy their traditional singing, I was very surprised to see Chairman Mao’s image was posted next to Panchen Lama,( the one passed away ). I did a web image search, below is a link to an image that Mao is posted on the wall of Tibetan household. However this image is released by the China’s news media, you can call that’s propaganda, I can’t argue with that. http://tour.scol.com.cn/html/2004/04/pic/001032_402013_1.jpg
    Practicing Buddhism is acceptable, unfortunately people promote independency will face prosecution in Tibet.

    I think I need study more into Tibetan’s history to learn what really happened. I only want to present the other side dimension of story. And I will try to let my fellow Chinese know what happened in Tibet. I think we would agree that today we, U.S. , China and the rest of the world face a big turning point in our mankind’s history, lots of uncertainty laying ahead, such cross-cultural dialogue on the grass root level is important and positive to promote understanding among people from different backgrounds. Thanks to our host Dan for providing such platform.

  94. Moonlight, thanks for sharing the info. Tells a lot.

  95. really enjoyed your post moonlight, I myself still don’t
    have a complete picture at all of the brutality of the Japanese Invasion, Growing up in the west I’ve always been more aware of the nazi holocaust…

  96. Val,

    Just imagine a living hell. Girls as young as three years old getting raped by the Japanese soldiers and then the body got multilated or cut open alive from the neck down to the private part. Or women getting raped and then bayonette from her This is not an exaggeration. There are photos as proofs. I highly recommend a great but little known movie: The men behind the black sun, Unit 731.

  97. Those hkese are always taking about they are the richest people in Asia, even the world.

    they should know their GDP is about 1% of America, The hkese idiotic magzine ASIAN WEEK said hkese leader is more powerful than Japanese leader, they think hkese leader is NO 2 most powerful man in asia.

    butif you compare
    area: Japan 300,000 square kms,
    hk: 1000 square kms
    population, Japan 120,000,000
    hk: 6,0000,000

    GDP: Japan: $40,000*120,000,000 = 4.8 trillion.
    hk 200 billion.
    Army Japan: 300,000
    HK : 0

    And there are least 5 middle east counties are much bigger and richer than hk.
    hkese personal is less than $20,000 per year.

    and those HK f**ls even look down at other people in Europe exclude British if you read their stupid magazine and newspapers, you know How low they are. The should respect all those great friends of their ex- ms****er.

    Hk idiots talk about hkese TRILLIONERS, (in fact, they even do not have one in hkese dollar,) hkese “billionaires” just means you have $10,000,000,(in hongkongese billion is “yi”, a “yi”= HK$100,000,000.) so they tell people there are a lot billionaires in hk. These hkese may do not understand math at all.

    And hkese publish a list of top 10 asian university, they listed their only 5 universities as no1 to no5, ha ha those fools. They may can make a car in next 100000000000000 years.

  98. 日暮苍山兰舟小
    本 落霞缀清泉

    beautiful poem… meaningful too

  99. The world is never short of cynics here. It seems that everybody has an irresistible desire to put somebody under fire. Alas.

    I don’t think Dan is the superhero who is going to save the unprivileged average Chinese people nor should he bear the burden of some cyber-space elite. Let Dan tell his stories, let passersby be invulnerable, let people believe what they want to believe. That is good for everybody.

    If we Chinese want to change something, we just do it.

  100. http://www.skycitygallery.com/japan/japan.html

    “I cut him open from the chest to the stomach, and he screamed terribly, and his face was all twisted in agony.”