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How to understand the recent spate of impassioned protests in China, officially against the Japanese ownership of some small islands, but clearly signifying more than just that? It is turmoil at least as significant as what’s occurring in the Muslim world, as it has political machinations behind it connected to political infighting and jockeying within the Chinese Communist Party.

So to truly understand it, you’d need to a) know about that inside party baseball, and b) everything relevant about Chinese society. That is, we can’t understand it properly. The following post WILL contain misunderstandings. Guaranteed.

But in the West, with us often fed bloodless Economist-style international reporting, you need an angle to even understand how wild things have been in recent weeks and days. You need to begin somewhere.

You need something like Ampontan , a pro-Japanese American ex-pat’s blog (a guy even wordier on Japan than I am on Rock), to really begin to see the story’s significance. If readers want to offer up good “China-hand” blogs as a counterweight, fine, but Ampontan’s posts on the recent crisis reveals so much more than you will find in the typical reporting.

Again, actual war is unlikely, but if there’s any incident in the next few days at sea, or in either Japan or China (or even here), where a Japanese official or citizen seems to have killed a Chinese one, China could seriously explode.

To get a taste of how impassioned the anti-Japan protests in China have gotten, thankfully so far without any Japanese getting killed, try this Ampontan post . It’s particularly interesting for showing how, with less volume and participation, there have simultaneously been anti-regime protests, such as one with a banner calling for “Constitutionalism.” Or the one with “30 Grievances.”

Everything seems to be up in the air over there!

His most recent post shows the truly massive (and Cultural Revolution recalling) deployments of the Army and Police, to restrain the protests, and contains two statements of his that as far as I can tell sum things up pretty well:

They [the Chinese now denouncing the protests] know the demonstrations were organized in advance, and they’ve developed a composite portrait of the people those were most actively involved: Males in their 20s with close cropped hair, speaking regional dialects, who are disciplined, ruthless, brainless, and arrived in groups simultaneously on buses. That suggests either the military or the armed police.

So you see why the inside-baseball stuff is key:

In short, this has been a patriot game played at the home stadium using the Japanese as the ball. The organizers’ idea seems to have been to create a greater wave of patriotism throughout the nation, which would give the conservatives (the Jiang faction) a chance to recover their status.

Some in China think they might have overplayed their hand by bringing back memories of the Cultural Revolution and presenting the country in a bad light overseas. This, they think (hope) will encourage reformers.

Read the whole thing. Okay, if you want official media, here’s the NYT : note the fact that some of the “protesters” are asking the Western male reporters present if they have “Chinese girlfriends.” I hope they all know the correct answer to that one.

And I can’t resist duplicating here one of Ampontan’s images:

wrap canon

That’s what you see as a Chinese shopper these days! A Saran-wrap canon.  And you thought “freedom fries” were ridiculous, did you?

Yeah, as we pray that no Japanese manager at any of the hundreds of factories they have in China gets killed, and especially that there is no incident in which they kill a Chinese person, you can throw out those ideas about commerce between nations naturally developing friendship and making war between them unthinkable, right along with yesterday’s plastic wrap.

Let’s give Polystyrene the last words:

I dreamt that I was Hitler!
The ruler of the sea! . . . the ruler of the universe! . . . the ruler of the Supermarket? And even, fatalistic me.

X-Ray Specs, “Plastic Bag”

More on: Ampontan, Japan, China

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