People from all sections of Chinese society, from middle-school students to the elderly, have participated in the protests holding placards denouncing imperialism, waving red banners and the flag of the People’s Republic of China – and many proudly raising portraits of Chairman Mao.
One of the largest days of protest coincided with the 80th anniversary of the Mukden incident, which marked the beginning of Japan’s invasion of China. Many Chinese are angry that Japan still refuses to acknowledge or apologise for its slaughter of many millions of Chinese. This unrepentant attitude towards its imperial past, as well as its ongoing colonial delusions, disgusts the people of China, who know the price they paid for their freedom from colonialism.
The background to these protests begins in 1895, when Japan forced China to relinquish control over many of its island territories – the Taiwan and the Diaoyu islands to name just two. This was only three years before Britain was able to occupy all of Hong Kong. In this era, China was characterised as ‘the weak man of Asia’, and seen as an easy target by both European and Japanese imperialists. Many European countries controlled swathes of China and their colonial puppets could operate outside of Chinese law.
Even when the Chinese communist party was founded in 1921, European empires dominated Shanghai and the French colonial police attempted to break up the first congress of the CPC. The era of colonial subjugation in China didn’t truly end until the victory of the communist forces in 1949, when Jiang Jieshi’s (Chiang Kai-shek’s) surrogate regime (which was entirely dependent on US capital and weapons) was finally defeated by the People’s Liberation Army.
At the Potsdam Conference of 1945, the USA promised freedom to Japan’s colonial subjects, but, as we know from the case of Korea, the people of Japan’s former colonies in fact just swapped one master for another.
These recent China protests have also highlighted the way the alliance between Japanese and US imperialism. The USA stands with Japan against China and other nations in Asia, including the DPRK. The USA’s backing of Japan is important in its so-called ‘Asia pivot’ of international relations, as it seeks to encircle,