BEIJING—Five anti-Japan demonstrators who turned violent at a protest in Shenzhen surrendered to police, state media said Monday as China began to question whether protests over disputed islands went too far.
The five men gave themselves up after police launched a social media campaign targeting demonstrators who damaged property in the southern city, the state news agency Xinhua said, with 350 calls received by Sunday night.
Some of the nationwide protests this month over the East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China turned violent, with Japanese property and businesses targeted by furious demonstrators.
The islands are controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing and Taipei, and tensions peaked after the Japanese government bought three of them from their private owners.
Beijing has kept up its rhetoric in recent days, and has sent ships to the area according to the Japan Coast Guard, but has prevented any repetition of large-scale protests within China.
There was huge public sympathy for 51-year-old Li Jianli, a Chinese citizen said by domestic media to have been left partially paralyzed after being brutally attacked by a mob for driving a Japanese-made car.
The attack in the northern city of Xian, in Shaanxi province, was heavily discussed on China’s popular Sina Weibo microblogging site – the country’s version of Twitter – where it was ‘re-tweeted’ more than 100,000 times and received almost 60,000 comments by Monday morning.
“Ignorant. Utterly ignorant. This is not patriotism, this is an ignorant and brutal act. It’s illegal, and the criminal should be brought to justice,” said one Weibo poster.
“I really don’t understand why Chinese are always bullying Chinese. Is this patriotism?” said another.