Posted by: Third Tone Devil | 15 April 2009

Asia Times: Japanese cherry blossoms attacked in Wuhan

Stephanie Wang writes in Asia Times (“New branches of nationalism in China,” 15 April):

On the scenic campus of Wuhan University in central China, there are over 1,000 Japanese cherry trees. Each spring, the flowering trees become a tourist attraction, but this year the beautiful scene was overshadowed by an unpleasant episode.

On March 21, when two Chinese women, a mother and daughter, were wearing Japanese kimonos and having their pictures taken beside some blossoming trees, a young man shouted at them: “Don’t wear a kimono and have pictures taken at Wuda [Wuhan University]! … Get out, you Japanese in kimono!” As more onlookers joined him to condemn the mother and daughter, they had to flee.

After being reported in the media and on the Internet, the episode quickly escalated into a nationwide debate between journalists, renowned writers and scholars and bloggers. According to a survey carried out by sohu.com, a major Chinese portal website, 51% backed the verbal abuse, while about 47% advocated a more rational expression of nationalism or patriotism.

 This percentage seems quite “balanced”. I do wonder whether these polls, which are so common on these issues, are doctored or not. My guess is that — as usual — in some instances they are (and then it serves to legitimise this or that viewpoint, or both, and to express the state’s preferences), in others not.

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