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Anti-Japan protests across China

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Demonstrators hold a Japanese flag with a cross mark as hundreds of Chinese stage an anti-Japan protest (AP)

Demonstrators hold a Japanese flag with a cross mark as hundreds of Chinese stage an anti-Japan protest (AP)

Demonstrators hold a Japanese flag with a cross mark as hundreds of Chinese stage an anti-Japan protest (AP)

Demonstrations against Japan broke out in at least six Chinese cities over the weekend despite efforts by authorities to rein in the growing protest movement, reports said.

Calls for more protests have also circulated widely and spread on the internet, including a planned march to the Japanese consulate in the western city of Chongqing.

The ruling Communist Party newspaper issued an editorial calling the protests "understandable," but urging demonstrators to plunge into their work and studies rather than take to the streets.

The government has encouraged nationalist outrage after Japan seized a Chinese fishing boat captain in disputed water but it also is wary of public protests, which have the potential to spin out of control and even challenge one-party rule.

Chinese protesters gathered on Sunday in a number of relatively small cities outside the major centres, including Changsha in the south, and Baoji and Lanzhou to the west. On Saturday, hundreds of protesters had rallied in the south west city of Deyang.

Japanese television footage showed Chinese police watching closely and in some cases ripping down banners and escorting people away from the demonstrations. There were several hundred protesters but were no immediate reports of arrests or property damage.

The protests were sparked by a collision last month between a Chinese fishing boat and Japanese government patrol vessels near a chain of unoccupied islands in the East China Sea, called Diaoyutai by China, that are controlled by Japan but claimed by both countries. Japan detained the Chinese boat's captain, but released him later.

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Marchers carrying Chinese national flags chanted "love China" and "boycott Japanese goods".

But other signs touched on sensitive domestic issues ranging from freedom of speech to high housing prices. One displayed in Baoji called for multi-party democracy, a challenge that could confirm fears among the communist leadership that a protest movement, if left unchecked, could evolve into confrontation with the party.

Diaoyutai activist Liu Feng said: "They seem to be organised by ordinary people. They're being held in smaller, more remote cities to avoid too much attention and pressure from the central government."


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