BEIJING – Hundreds of Chinese staged anti-Japan demonstrations in several Chinese cities for a second weekend as diplomatic tensions flare over a string of disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Local officials in Zhuji city in Zhejiang province and Haikou in Hainan province said students and others protested there Sunday. Like many Chinese officials, both refused to give their names. The protest in Zhuji was described as "small-scale" while around 100 demonstrators were reported in Haikou.
Thousands protested last weekend in 10 Chinese cities in a showing of anti-Japan sentiment triggered by Tokyo's detention of a group of Hong Kong activists who landed on the disputed islands earlier this month. The 14 activists were arrested for illegal entry onto one of the islands — known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China — and were released two days later.
The islands are controlled by Japan but are also claimed by China and Taiwan. They are near key sea lanes and are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and as-yet untapped underground natural resources.
The Chinese activists' landing and another in response on the same islands by nationalist Japanese last weekend have made the issue one of the biggest territorial flare-ups between the two Asian giants in years, amid persistent animosities over Japan's imperialist past and new concerns about China's rising economic and military clout.
Adding to the pressure, Tokyo's nationalist governor Shintaro Ishihara said he wants to visit the islands in October to accompany a coastal and land survey.
The protests in China on Sunday followed a demonstration by about 400 people Saturday in Rizhao city in Shandong province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Xinhua said the Rizhao protesters held signs that read "Safeguard the motherland's territorial integrity" and "Japanese get out of the Diaoyu Islands" and shouted anti-Japanese slogans.
Japan's Kyodo News service said demonstrations also occurred Sunday in Guangdong and Shanxi provinces, but that couldn't immediately be confirmed.