A cruise ship named Costa Victoria carrying 1,500 Chinese tourists arrived at Kumamoto, Japan on Saturday. It was the biggest Chinese tour group to visit Japan since Japan announced its plan to "nationalize" the Diaoyu Islands. Many netizens expressed their dissatisfaction. The recent decrease in China's outbound tourism to Japan also presents a sharp contrast with this tour.
Many Chinese people have cancelled business trips to Japan. However, there are others who have different opinions, like these 1,500 people. The clash and combination of these different points of views reflect a comprehensive picture of the real China.
People have the right to express their dissatisfaction by not traveling to Japan. They are also allowed to put their personal interests above the national interest. The fact that the government is not intervening should be viewed as progress.
Chinese people no longer have identical opinions on major issues. Certain percentages of the public disagree with or show indifference to mainstream views. It is a very normal phenomenon in such a huge society. Minority views should be respected.
The Diaoyu Islands dispute is the most intense of all the current disputes between China and Japan in recent years. As ordinary Chinese people, what can we possibly do? Chinese people have little experience answering this question.
Many Chinese people want to impose economic sanctions on Japan. However, they do not know much about whether the sanctions will work or to what extent China would be influenced by it. China's general attitude is rather hesitant.
When the Chinese public feels offended by Japan, calls for sanctions will be advocated by many Chinese, including boycotts on Japanese products. But this can hardly become a unified action by society, given the popularity of made-in-Japan products. The government should leave it up to the public to decide how they deal with Japanese products. In fact, the official policies toward Japan in recent years have been intended to reflect the will of the Chinese public, rather than guide public opinion. This is what decides the sustainability of China's current Japan policies.
One cruise carrying Chinese tourists headed toward Japan should not be taken as a sign that the Chinese anger toward Japan has ceased. It is common knowledge that bilateral trade, even with its huge volume, is bound to shrink if the political storm continues.
Some say the two countries are competing in terms of who can express the most anger. Realistically there are few factors that can stop China and Japan from competing. Regardless of what caused the tussle, after some time has passed, it will be clear how power has shifted between the two sides.