China tensions with Japan sell fireworks?(Read article summary)
Some manufacturers of New Year fireworks are profiting from strong anti-Japanese sentiment related to territorial disputes. Just check out the names of certain pyrotechnics for sale on Beijing streets.
This yearâ€™s celebration, though, will carry ugly undertones of real war in the midst of rising tensions with neighboring Japan. On sale on the cityâ€™s streets in advance of Saturday nightâ€™s festivities is a box of pyrotechnics called â€śTokyo Explosion.â€ťÂ
Most fireworks here bear more benign names. â€śGolden Snakes Dancing Crazilyâ€ť is expected to be popular, as Chinese welcome in the Year of the Snake. â€śWish You Get Richâ€ť and â€śBillionaireâ€ť play to traditional desires.
But some manufacturers are seeking to profit from a seething undercurrent of anti-Japanese sentiment that has bubbled to the surface as a dispute with Japan over ownership of a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea grows increasingly bitter.
â€śI Love the Diaoyu Islandsâ€ť is one such product, referring to the Chinese name for the islands. In Japan they are known as the Senkakus.
â€śAircraft Carrier Shows Chinaâ€™s Mightâ€ť is another, celebrating the October 2012 launch of the Liaoning, Chinaâ€™s first carrier, which has become a symbol of Beijingâ€™s growing military strength.
Tensions around the islands edged up another notch this week, when the Japanese government revealed that a Chinese naval frigate had â€ślocked onâ€ť to a Japanese vessel with its missile-guidance radar system.
On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the incident a â€śdangerousâ€ť and â€śprovocativeâ€ť act â€śthat could have led to an unpredictable situation.â€ť
On the Chinese Internet, however, angry micro-bloggers hailed the Chinese action.
â€śWe should shoot at Japanese vessels before we warn them,â€ť advocated Li Xu on Sina.comâ€™s popular Twitter-like Weibo platform. â€śThe only way to punish Japan is to annihilate all Japanese,â€ť added another commentator calling himself Truelove Leo.
The aggressively named fireworks reflect an anti-Japanese mood that the Chinese authorities sometimes seem eager to feed. Government and ruling Communist Party officials orchestrated anti-Japanese demonstrations last year when the island dispute broke out, and Chinese TV is flooded with drama series â€“ one much like another â€“ set during the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945), featuring inhuman â€śJapanese devilsâ€ť as the popular Chinese phrase has it.
There is even a theme park in Shanxi Province where tourists can dress up as soldiers in the Eighth Route Army, the Communist Partyâ€™s main military force during the war, sing anti-Japanese war songs, and join in mock guerrilla battles against the Japanese invaders.
A public opinion poll released at the end of last year found that 87 percent of Chinese had a negative opinion of Japan, up from 66 percent a year earlier. And the feeling is mutual. A Japanese government survey in December found sympathy for China at a record low, with less than 20 percent of respondents reporting an affinity for their giant neighbor.
Not everybody buys into the prevailing atmosphere, however. When one Chinese blogger posted a screenshot from a recent TV drama capturing a particularly gory and ludicrous scene of a Chinese man tearing a â€śJapanese devilâ€ť in half with his bare hands, most of the comments were scathing.
â€śAnother brainwashing drama,â€ť scoffed one. â€śThe Communist Party is unparalleled in this field.â€ť