09/20/2012, 00.00
CHINA - JAPAN

For Ai Weiwei, government behind Diaoyu/Senkaku protests

The great dissident artist tapes an incident involving an attack against the US ambassador to China. For him, the last "real" protest in the country was Tiananmen. This one is manipulated by party and government. Police uses the mayhem to arrest real dissidents. Mid-Autumn festival becomes as opportunity for bakers to make mooncakes with slogans like, "kill the Japanese."

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Anti-Japan protests in China were "prepared by officials," said Ai Weiwei, a dissident artist who has been under house arrest for 81 days on trumped up tax evasion charges to punish him for his social criticism.

Ai, who was a consultant for the Bird's Nest, Beijing Olympic Stadium, posted on line a video showing some 50 protesters targeting the car of US Ambassador Gary Locke.

Ai was visiting a friend's apartment near the US embassy in Beijing-which is close to Japan's mission-when he heard the protest and began taping the incident at the time of the attack against the US diplomat's car.

Chinese leaders "tried to picture it as being self-organised, but there was so many details that were obviously very carefully prepared," Ai said.

The last "real" protest in the country, in his opinion, was the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989.

"But to use that kind of tactic in this kind of international discussion seems pretty naive. It is like the 1960s."

The China Human Rights Defender also saw the hand of the government in the protest, especially since pro-democracy activists who took part in the demonstrations were arrested.

Taking advantage of the chaos caused by the demonstrations in Hangzhou and Shenzhen, some dissidents raised banners slamming China's human rights violations, and for this, they were immediately arrested. Nothing was done however to stop the violence against property associated with Japan.

Meanwhile, protests continue. Chinese Navy ships are still patrolling the disputed islands, called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan.

The two governments have failed to discuss the issue and continue instead their symbolic actions.

This year's Mid-Autumn festival in China saw bakers make mooncakes carrying ideographs that say 'death to Japan' rather than the more traditional best wishes for longevity and wealth.

At the start of next month, the much-loved seasonal festivity will bring back the yuè bĭng, mooncakes filled with beans or lotus seed, that people buy and give as a gift.

This year, anti-Japanese mooncakes have appeared on bakery shelves. Instead of the traditional well wishes, they say 'kill the Japanese,' 'strike at the Japanese,' or 'hate the Japanese.'

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