This was obvious with the second weekend of anti-Japanese demonstrations in mid-April. These were not government authorized. but the government feared a violent reaction if they tried to stop the demonstrations by force. Chinese history is rife with spontaneous popular movements that have caused civil war. Chinese leaders are aware of this pattern, as well as what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989, and Ukraine last month. During all these protests, the main subject is not Japan, but the growing size and ferocity of the demonstrations themselves.
This demonstrations serve many purposes:
- These demonstrations allow the people to associate without confronting the Govt. directly. These contacts and associations will come handy when demonstrating against the Govt.
- By showing that Govt. is afraid or reluctant to break popular demonstrations it debunks the myth of invincibility of the Govt.
- It acts as a moral booster for the people and gives them a taste of power of association.
- It draws the attention of the World and especially the media! It shows the World that spirit of democracy is present.
Al-Jazeera repeatedly broadcasted anti-US and anti-war demonstrations in various Middle-Eastern countries both before and after the Iraq war. This was an important influence on the Lebanese movement for Independence from Syria, and even helped increased participation in the Iraqi elections.
For years tyrannical Governments have successfuly used anger against foreigners (or foreign country) to grab the power and to divert attention away from the local issues.
Maybe the people fighting for democracy can also leverage demonstrations against a third-party in their fight.
BEIJING A top Chinese state-run newspaper has said in a staff editorial that the wave of popular protests against Japan was part of an "evil plot" with "ulterior motives," suggesting that at least some elements of the Chinese leadership now wish to portray the demonstrations as a conspiracy to undermine the Communist Party.
Officials are clearly concerned that the protests, if left unchecked, could evolve into a direct challenge to the party, especially as a string of sensitive political anniversaries approaches in early May.