More than 180 Chinese cities Tuesday witnessed demonstrations against Japan's recent provocative actions over the Diaoyu Islands dispute. The day marked the 81st anniversary of a Japanese invasion of China, but it is reassuring that the demonstrations were largely peaceful and law-abiding.
China is not a country that embraces extreme populism. It is difficult to completely prevent a minority of individuals from using demonstrations to vent their discontent with society, an occurrence which takes place in many places across the world. Even in developed regions, protests, such as those against financial giants during the Occupy Wall Street movement, saw violence at times.
But this violent behavior is absolutely unwelcome among the wider Chinese public. Mainstream media in China recently lashed out at this violent behavior, and police authorities are firmly investigating the violence.
It is vital to differentiate between this minority of hooligans and the mainstream public who staged demonstrations based on law. Muddling the two not only shows disrespect for those genuine protesters, but also casts doubt on their patriotism.
Non-violence must be a firm objective of Chinese society. But we cannot belittle ourselves or negate the entire movement aimed at protecting the Diaoyu Islands simply because the demonstrations had violence.
Recently, a few Internet celebrities and media outlets went further in criticizing violent behavior during demonstrations, and lashed out at "figures behind the plot" as well as "extreme nationalism." By creating a non-existent target, they aim to grasp the moral high ground. In their eyes, the few violent perpetrators represent mainstream China, and toughness on Japan is driving China "insane."
We want to stress again that the Chinese public and police demonstrated a rational reaction on Tuesday, a sensitive anniversary. The violent behavior of a few hooligans in previous demonstrations had stirred up concerns among some Japanese people in China and even some Chinese who own Japanese-made cars.
In this era of rapid social development, objectively disclosing social problems drives China forward. However, we should not look down upon ourselves, and should not cut the ground from under our own feet while our nation faces serious tension over territorial disputes with Japan.
While solving various problems at home, China should also defend and expand its strategic space within the world. The two are equally urgent tasks. The Japanese now want to encroach upon our land, which has nothing to do with whether our nation is perfect enough or not. China, despite all its problems at home, must stand up for its own land.
The article is an editorial published in the Chinese edition of the Global Times Thursday.