China now bracing for mass protests (disputed Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyutai in Chinese.)

China now bracing for mass protests

BEIJING–Chinese security authorities are bracing for mass anti-Japan demonstrations this weekend following the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain, sources here said.

The incident, which has triggered anti-Japanese sentiment in China, is expected to culminate in widespread protests on Saturday, the 79th anniversary of the Liutiaohu Incident in which Imperial Japanese Army soldiers blew up a section of Japan’s South Manchurian Railway in Liutiaohu, southern Manchuria, leading to Japan’s occupation of Manchuria.

The captain of a Chinese fishing boat was arrested last week by the Japan Coast Guard after his trawler collided–Japanese officials say deliberately–with two coast guard vessels near the disputed Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyutai in Chinese.

The Japanese Embassy in Beijing is taking steps to ensure the safety of its staff and Japanese residents in China.

According to Chinese authorities, demonstrators will gather Saturday morning at several areas in the city, including the Ritan public park in the Chaoyang district, before heading for the Japanese Embassy.

Internet websites of the nationalist China Federation for Defending the Diaoyutai Islands posted notices of the protests, which fanned widespread interest in holding demonstrations.

A Chinese security official said, “On Saturday, all the members of this office will be working to guard (against protesters), especially around the Japanese Embassy and Japanese restaurants.”

The security authorities will permit the demonstrations, but depending on the size of the crowd and developments, the authorities may be compelled to take steps to ensure that things do not spiral out of control, the official said.

Fourteen detained crew members from the Chinese trawler were returned to China on Monday, but the captain remains in custody.

In Beijing, Japanese Ambassador Uichiro Niwa was summoned five times by the Chinese government to request the captain’s release. Beijing also postponed a second round of talks in Tokyo on joint oil field development in the East China Sea scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

This week’s planned visit to Japan by Li Jianguo, the vice chair of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, was abruptly postponed.

Amid growing anti-Japanese postings on the Internet, the Chinese Communist Party and the government are concerned that the criticism could turn on them if they drop their hard-line stance against Japan.

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