I saw my first Kunming protest march last week. They were moving too fast down the road to try and make out their bannners, but I later found out it was one of a number of coordinated protests throughout China cities, lambasting Japan for laying claim to some islands, which China also claims. Feelings are running very high about it all, even in sleepy Kunming, with a Japanese restaurant trashed and some Japanese cars attacked. At the weekend, quite a number of my students asked me what I thought about it. They have been fed passionate rhetoric and one-sided potted history lessons about the islands for a few weeks now and I very much wanted to ask them how independent they felt their news sources were. Instead I pointed out that they had never heard of these islands a month ago and I predicted they would be forgotton within a further month. And did they realise that the leadership in China was changing at the moment? Coincidence? Revealingly, although most students had heard the name of the man tipped to take over the leadership, none knew anything at all about him. With imminent leadership changes in Japan too, one wonders just how orchestrated this neighbour-bashing is?
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