Cablegate: Chinese Protest at Japanese Embassy Over East China Sea

DE RUEHBJ #2393/01 1702226
O 182226Z JUN 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: A) Beijing 2247
B) Beijing 2372

1. (SBU) Summary: A small group of Chinese demonstrators chanted and
waved flags in front of the Japanese Embassy in Beijing in protest
against a Sino-Japan joint gas exploration deal on June 18.
Security was tight at the government-sanctioned protest, with an
estimated 150 municipal police and People's Armed Police deployed.
Foreign and Chinese journalists were allowed to watch the tightly
choreographed protest from a designated area across the street from
the Japanese Embassy. A small group of self-described patriots
tried to show their support for the protests but were removed to
behind police barricades. The protest itself lasted approximately
25 minutes and included 15 people chanting and waving flags. End

Response to the Diaoyu Islands Controversy

2. (SBU) The June 18 protest was organized by the China Civil
Association for the Protection of the Diaoyu Islands (zhongguo
minjian baodiao xiehui) in response to the expected joint gas deal
and the June 10 collision between a Japanese Coast Guard vessel and
a Taiwan fishing boat. Protesters consider the actions of the
Japanese Coast Guard to be a violation of Taiwan's-and by extension,
China's-territorial integrity. Note: The Chinese Ministry of
Foreign Affairs spokesperson twice referred to the Japanese Coast
Guard actions as "illegal" and expressed its "grave dissatisfaction"
over the issue (Refs A and B).

3. (SBU) According to a report in the Hong Kong paper Takungpao, the
protest was aimed at three specific goals:
--Support the Taiwan people in their effort to protect the Diaoyu
Islands and protest the Japanese seizure of Chinese territory;
--Question the result of the secret negotiations between China and
Japan over the opening up of the East China Sea and question whether
China has compromised during the negotiations; and
--Call on Chinese people worldwide and Diaoyu Island protection
groups to unite.

Tight Security

4. (SBU) Three hours before the start of the protest, a large
contingent of Beijing municipal police and People's Armed Police
(PAP) was dispatched to the Japanese Embassy. Poloff counted 15
police cars and vans in addition to two buses full of PAP parked on
a side street. Security was coordinated by a PAP officer in a black
Audi. Police set up a media section across the street from the
Japanese Embassy where approximately 35 journalists and
photographers were allowed to wait. A journalist told Poloff that
he had been alerted to the protest by a text message from a group
called the Patriot Network (Aiguozhe Tongmeng Wang). Approximately
five minutes before the protest was to begin, police closed the
street to all pedestrians and vehicles, with each intersection
guarded by at least 20 police officers armed with two fire
extinguishers. During the protest, municipal police were the main
force visible in front of the Embassy, while at least 50 PAP
squatted in formation on a side street. All police officers
approached by Polloff claimed to have no knowledge of the event as
it was taking place.

Supporters Removed

5. (SBU) Before the protest officially commenced, a group of 12
Beijing residents gathered in front of the Japanese Embassy to "show
support for the protest." One vocal supporter eplained to Poloff
that "common people" were no allowed to participate in the protest,
but they wanted to demonstrate that "China cannot yield even a small
piece of its territory." Most of these supporters said that they
had heard of the protest online and decided to attend of their own
volition. If there had been real outreach, they said, there would
be far more Chinese taking part. Municipal police officers politely
moved the group of supporters and Poloff behind police barricades
approximately 200 yards away from the Embassy gate five minutes
before the protest began. The supporters reacted to requests to
move with anger saying that they were patriots and supporters of the
protests but did not resist physically. Police allowed them to
leave a box of bottled water for the protesters.

Protest Uneventful

6. (SBU) At 2:30 p.m., 15 protesters marched onto the street
carrying a large Chinese flag and banners, one of which was visible
to Poloff and read "China Civil Association for the Protection of
the Diaoyu Islands." They first chanted out of earshot of Poloff
for approximately 10 minutes in front of the media section with
their backs to the Japanese Embassy. They then turned and chanted
in the direction of the Embassy for approximately 10 minutes. One

BEIJING 00002393 002 OF 002

protester was allowed to approach the gates to deliver a letter of
protest. At 2:55 p.m., the protesters marched off the street and
quickly departed in a minivan. The street was then reopened. The
Japanese Ambassador returned to the Embassy at approximately 3:05
p.m. without incident.

© Scoop Media

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