Beijing (AsiaNews) - Sending warships to
the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands "achieved the goal of demonstrating China's
sovereignty claim," said Xiao Huiwu, deputy chief of China Marine
Surveillance (CMS) headquarters. This is an indication that Chinese leaders,
military and protesters show a converging attitude towards Japanese claims to
the disputed islands.
About a thousand Chinese fishing boats
protected by six patrols ships already in the area were preparing to head to
the disputed waters.
An unnamed Defence official said that
the action was designed to make everyone understand that no one can mess around
with Chinese territory.
This follows a statement last Thursday
by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao who said that China would "never yield an inch" of
The islands' value is unclear though. They
are strategically important for some since they lay astride major maritime routes.
For others, fishing is important; whilst more think vast gas reserves lie under
In 2008, in a good will gesture, the two
countries agreed to develop the islands' resources together, but never implement
Initially peaceful rallies in more than
50 mainland cities over the Islands dispute turned ugly over the past two days
with the consent of the authorities.
Japanese flags, cars and
imported machinery have been burnt; stones and other objects have been thrown
at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing without police intervention.
Demonstrations also occurred in the
cities of Harbin, Nanjing, Hohhot, Changchun and Wuhan, and among overseas Chinese
communities in Houston and Chicago, Xinhua
News said on Saturday that more than 40,000
people joined the demonstrations in 20 Chinese cities.
On Chinese media, the anti-Japan
offensive continued as well. A commentary in the People's Daily newspaper warned
on Monday that Japan's economy could suffer for up to 20 years if Beijing chose
to impose sanctions over an escalating territorial row. "Would Japan rather lose another 10 years and
even be ready to fall back 20 years?" it asked.
The crisis has gone beyond
nation-to-nation relations. Japan's electronics giant Panasonic announced it
would suspend activities in three of its mainland plants, after they suffered
damages from anti-Japanese protests two days ago. They should however reopen
tomorrow, a spokesperson, said if the authorities guarantee security for the facilities
and their workers.
Canon also announced it had suspended
its operations but did not say when they would resume.
The issue could serious affect the China-Japan
trade relation. Two-way trade totalled US$342.9 billion last year, making Japan
China's fourth-largest trade partner, according to Chinese official data.
Meanwhile, the United States is trying
to cool things down. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, a former CIA director,
has arrived in Tokyo for talks with Japanese leaders. "A misjudgement on
one side or the other could result in violence" and "conflict," said Mr
Panetta, who is due to travel to Beijing this week where he will pass on a
similar warning for Chinese authorities.
Washington has on several occasions said
it would not get involved in territorial disputes in this and other areas;
however, it has said that the world's second and third largest economies should
have more normal relations and avoid world crises.