[LesEchos.fr] China-Japan dispute: Washington is worried about the risk of war

<Quote> [LesEchos.fr]

For the second straight day, hundreds of Chinese protesters marched in several cities in the frame of the Diaoyu-Sankaku Islands dispute. Sites of Toyota and Panasonic were attacked. Japan asked China to protect its citizens.
AFP

The current territorial disputes in Asia, especially those between China and several countries of the region could trigger a war if the concerned governments continue their “provocations”, said on Sunday night the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. “I am concerned when I see countries engaged in various provocations and that it could lead to violence and ultimately to a conflict”, Panetta said on his arrival in Tokyo, this in response to a question about the conflict between Beijing and Tokyo on a small archipelago of the Eastern China Sea.

“And this conflict could spread”, warned again Leon Panetta who begins an Asian tour which will take him to China too, while tensions between Beijing and Tokyo have rarely been so vivid.

The dispute is an archipelago of several islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, located in the East of the China Sea. This archipelago, which would conceal oil and gas in its seabed, is also claimed by Taiwan. The decision of the Japanese government, at the beginning of this week, to buy these islands to their private owner therefore to nationalize it, caused a very strong reaction from Beijing who sent several ships to patrol for a few hours around the archipelago to mark it belongs to China.

Hundreds of protesters

This weekend, the dispute sparked anti-Japan rallies with hundreds of demonstrators in several China cities, for the second consecutive day on Sunday. Japanese Prime Minister Toshihiro Noda warned, on Fuji TV, that China should “be fully mobilized to prevent malicious acts against the nationals and Japanese companies”.

The movement began on Saturday in several Chinese cities including Beijing, where protesters laid siege of the Japanese embassy. Protesters have attacked Japanese cars, threw eggs and stones at the front of the embassy, and entered several plants run by Japanese in the city of Qingdao (East)

Sunday, the Chinese police intervened with tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of angry ones installed on a wide avenue of Shenzhen, near Hon-Kong. In Shanghai, about 1,500 people with Chinese flags and portraits of Mao marched to the Japanese consulate, but the police did not allowed them to approach the building but by small groups. A crowd of a hundred peoples rallied again in front of the Beijing’s Japanese embassy, guarded by a cordon of riot police. Some protesters threw water bottles to the front of the mission. “The government should organize a massive boycott of Japanese goods, and if the Japanese government does not make us our territory, we should declare war”, says Wang Shi, a fifty years old Pekinese. The police used loudspeakers to ask the crowd to keep the law and remain “rational”.

“Regrettable”

Protesters also marched in Chengdu, south-west of the country, calling for stronger action after the Tokyo government’s announcement, on Tuesday, redeeming to their private owner, a Japanese family the group of islands that the Chinese call Diaoyu Senkaku and Japanese. Beijing. Pekin responded Friday by sending six patrol ships in waters close to the islands.

According to the Japanese business daily Nikkei, demonstrators attacked two Panasonic Group factories in the cities of Qingdao and Suzhou and Toyota dealers agencies were burned. Mr Tong Zeng, a Beijing businessman and chairman of the Defense of the Diaoyu Islands China Federation, believes that these events are the largest against Japan he had ever seen. “It probably shows the anger of Chinese peoples, but there were also some cases of extreme acts, and it is very regrettable”, he said.

But the official Chinese media, while welcoming expressions of “rational” anger, warns against slippage. “There have been some regrettable irrational behaviors,” says an editorial on the website of People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party organ, while they prepare the President Hu Jintao succession, for October. “The violent expressions of patriotism will only bring joy to the villains (Japanese), put our foreign policy on the defensive, and hurt the feelings of our countrymen,” says the editorial.

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