Anti-Japan protests across Chinese cities over islands dispute

A demonstrator kicks a Japanese-brand car during a protest in Chongqing
A demonstrator kicks a Japanese-brand car during a protest in Chongqing Photo: Stringer China / Reuters

Thousands of protestors besieged the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday, hurling rocks, eggs and bottles as protests broke out in other major cities in China amid growing tension between Asia's two biggest economies over a group of disputed islands.

Paramilitary police with shields and batons barricaded the embassy, holding back and occasionally fighting with slogan-chanting, flag-waving protesters who at times appeared to be trying to storm the building.

Demonstrators damage a Japanese-funded shopping center during a protest in Qingdao
Demonstrators damage a Japanese-funded shopping center during a protest in Qingdao Credit: Stringer China / Reuters

"Return our islands! Japanese devils get out!" some shouted. One of them held up a sign reading: "For the respect of the motherland, we must go to war with Japan."

Protester Liu Gang, a migrant worker from the southern region of Guangxi, said: "We hate Japan. We've always hated Japan. Japan invaded China and killed a lot of Chinese. We will never forget."

By early evening, police had succeeded in persuading some onlookers and would-be protesters to leave.

Eggs thrown by demonstrators splatter onto police shields during a protest outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing
Eggs thrown by demonstrators splatter onto police shields during a protest outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing Credit: David Gray / Reuters

"I think it's time for the Chinese government to get tougher. Look at what the ordinary people feel. The government should respond," said one onlooker who came to protest and who gave his family name as Xue.

"I don't mean war, but tougher action like sanctions. You can see how much Japan depends on our economy. Then don't sell them any rare earths," he said, referring to elements mined in China and key to advanced technologies for the defence, electronics and renewable-energy industries.

Japan said its foreign minister had cut short a visit to Australia and flown back to Tokyo.