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China moves to quell anti-Japanese demonstrations

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Protests flared in cities across China over the weekend, with occasional outbreaks of violence, including the torching and looting of Japanese-invested factories and shops. They were the largest anti-Japanese demonstrations since 2005, reflecting ever-present anger toward Tokyo that periodically bursts to the surface.

China's authoritarian government rarely allows protests and the wave of anti-Japanese demonstrations clearly received a degree of official approval. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Monday that Japan should be mindful of the Chinese public's feelings and return to the negotiating table.

"The Chinese people have expressed strong indignation," Hong told reporters at a regular briefing. "Whether the Japanese side can take seriously China's firm stance and the Chinese people's call for justice and whether they can take the correct attitude and action will determine how the situation develops."

Authorities, however, are walking a tightrope between allowing citizens to vent and losing control of the protests, which could then turn against the government.

By Monday, authorities were clamping down.

In the western city of Xi'an, police issued an order banning large-scale protests in commercial areas, districts with large populations, and anywhere near government offices. The statement also warned that the use of mobile texting or online messaging to organize illegal demonstrations was forbidden.

In the southern city of Guangzhou, police said they arrested seven people for attacking cars and three for vandalizing shops.

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