China clamps down on anti-Japan protests

Tensions between China and Japan following protests over a territorial dispute.

A man holds a Chinese flag as protesters take part in an anti-Japanese protest outside the Japanese consulate, guarded by police (in background), in Shanghai on August 16, 2012. Anti-Japanese protests were staged in Shanghai and Beijing following the arrest of a group of pro-China activists who landed on a disputed archipelago known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. Picture: AFP.

BEIJING - China moved quickly on Wednesday to snuff out more anti-Japan protests after days of angry demonstrations over a territorial dispute forced Japanese businesses to shut their doors and threatened an economic backlash.

Relations between Asia's two biggest economies have faltered badly, hitting their lowest point in decades on Tuesday when China marked the highly charged anniversary of Japan's 1931 occupation of its giant neighbour.

Tensions had run high on land and at sea, with four days of major protests in cities across China and Japanese and Chinese boats stalking each other in waters around a group of East China Sea islands at the centre of the dispute, known by Japan as the Senkaku and by China as the Diaoyu.

"It seems the protests in front of our embassy have subsided," the Japanese embassy in Beijing, the focal point of protests, said in an email to Japanese citizens.

The embassy cited a message from the Beijing public security bureau saying "the authorities ask for cooperation that there be no protests in the embassy district". Beijing's public security bureau was not immediately available for comment.

Outside the embassy, police moved on a lone protester who had been shouting "Defeat small Japan" early on Wednesday.

Japanese businesses shut hundreds of stores and factories across China, some sending workers back to Japan in fear the protests would get out of hand. Japan's Beijing embassy had been under siege by protesters throwing water bottles, waving Chinese flags and chanting slogans evoking Japan's occupation.

To prevent a repeat of those protests, large numbers of riot police were deployed around the embassy and Beijing's subway operator closed the station nearest to the Japanese mission.