By BRIAN SPEGELE in Beijing
Protesters holding banners, placards and Chinese national flags, march down a street during an anti-Japan protest in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Sunday.
BEIJING—Anti-Japanese protests flared across China, including in front of Japanese diplomatic consulates, as Japanese activists successfully landed on the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea.
More than 1,000 demonstrators in the southern city of Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, paraded through the city’s streets on Sunday, waving Chinese flags and calling for the government to defend the country’s territorial claims against Japan. Japan controls the islands, also claimed by China and Taiwan, which call them Diaoyu.
In nearby Guangzhou on Sunday morning, activists staged a sit-in at Japan’s consulate there, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. A similar protest in China’s northeast city Shenyang also targeted Japan’s consulate.
There was no sign of protesters at Japan’s embassy in Beijing on Sunday.
Photos posted on popular Chinese microblogs showed what appeared to be at least 1,000 protesters clogging a street in the eastern city of Hangzhou and jammed shoulder-to-should across an overpass. Local authorities couldn’t be reached for comment.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday released a statement saying it had lodged protests with Japan’s ambassador in Beijing.
The Chinese side “expressed strong protest and urged the Japanese side to cease actions that damage China’s territorial sovereignty.”
In a commentary, Xinhua said Sunday’s landing had “poisoned the atmosphere of the Sino-Japanese relations and constituted another setback for both countries’ efforts to further their political and economic ties.”
Japanese pop-culture is popular in China, though that has done little to quell widespread anti-Japanese sentiment, even in China’s most cosmopolitan cities.
The countries’ economies have grown increasingly linked in recent years, though calls for a boycott of Japanese goods once again emerged on popular Chinese forums over the weekend.
“If China has a moral backbone, all ports’ imports and exports of Japanese containers should be halted without exception,” wrote one user of the popular Sina Weibo microblogging service.
Sunday’s protests recalled October 2010, when large-scale anti-Japanese protests last erupted. After a Chinese fishing-boat captain was detained following a collision with a Japanese patrol vessel in the disputed waters, students and others across China demonstrated in front of popular Japanese shops and called for a boycott of Japanese goods.
Along with important fishing grounds, disputed areas of the East China Sea are thoughts to hold potentially vast reserves of natural gas as well as smaller oil reserves. The U.S. Energy Information Administration cites Chinese oil companies saying contested areas of the East China Sea holds more than 20 million barrels of oil in reserves and reserves of natural gas at around 17.5 trillion cubic feet.
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