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State Media Attempts to Cool Down Dispute over Diaoyu Islands

On August 15, 2012, 14 Chinese activists landed on one of Diaoyu islands (called the Senkaku Islands in Japan) in the East China Sea. Their action caused a fresh round of heated disputes between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the territory.

In an attempt to cool down the Chinese activists’ expression of patriotism, Huanqiu (the Global Times), a division of People’s Daily, published an article written by Han Xiaoqing, the president of the Japan-China news agency (also a division of People’s Daily). The article, questioning whether the Chinese activists’ landing on one of the Diaoyu islands damaged China’s national interest, was titled “Is it a patriotic act for activists to land on the Diaoyu Islands or does it harm the country?”

The article said, “The Hong Kong activists’ actions in landing on the Diaoyu Islands again pushed the slightly eased Sino-Japanese relations into a fierce confrontational situation.” It argued that China’s most urgent national strategic objective is not to recapture the Diaoyu Islands. "Currently China’s most urgent and most important national strategic goal is to develop the economy and enhance economic strength in order to cope with the grim international situation and severe challenges."

In conclusion, the author stated, “The Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland activists landing on the Diaoyu Islands, regardless of their motives, was not a patriotic act, but an act that harmed the country.”

The article caused an uproar on Chinese Internet forums, with the majority of the postings calling it traitorous. The article was soon withdrawn from the Huanqiu website, but it is still available on many other Chinese websites.

Source: Huanqiu, August 28, 2012