Thousands attend anti-Japan rallies in China


Thousands of protesters in two southern Chinese cities marched on a Japanese consulate today and threw paint and bottles at businesses selling Japanese goods, a day after anti-Tokyo demonstrations in Beijing turned violent.

The protests in Guangzhou province were the latest eruption of anger at what many Chinese see as Tokyo's whitewashing of World War Two atrocities and its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Yesterday, an estimated 10,000 people gathered at Japan's embassy and the ambassador's residence, throwing rocks, bottles and eggs in the biggest public outpouring of anger against foreigners since the 1998 NATO bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade.

The fresh demonstrations came as Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura summoned the Chinese ambassador in Tokyo and told him the stoning of Japan's embassy and official residence on Saturday was a "serious problem".

Earlier, Japan's ambassador to China called the protests in Beijing "gravely regrettable" and called on Beijing to protect Japanese nationals and businesses. Anti-Japan sentiment has been running high since Tuesday, when Japan approved a textbook critics say glosses over brutal Japanese occupation of China from 1931 to 1945.

Hong Kong's Cable TV said several thousand people marched in the provincial capital of Guangzhou, with some protesters trying to break through a police barricade outside Japan's consulate and others hurling things at Japanese restaurants and shops. Cable TV footage showed crowds, mostly young men, holding up defaced Japanese flags, then stamping on them or burning them.

In the nearby city of Shenzhen on the border with Hong Kong, a group of about 500 demonstrators marched in downtown shopping districts, chanting anti-Japan slogans and throwing paint and plastic bottles at Japanese restaurants, a Reuters witness said. Today, China's Foreign Ministry appealed to protesters to be "calm and sane".

"Some people in Beijing organised a demonstration themselves in protest against the wrong attitude and practice Japan had taken recently on the issue of its history of aggression," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying.