ESE police used pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons to break up an anti-Japan protest in southern China yesterday as demonstrators took to the streets in scores of cities across the country in a long-running row over a group of disputed islands.
The protests erupted in Beijing and many other cities on Saturday, when demonstrators besieged the Japanese embassy, hurling rocks, eggs and bottles and testing police cordons, prompting the Japanese prime minister to call on Beijing to ensure protection of his country's people and property.
The protests, the latest setback in long-troubled relations between Beijing and Tokyo, followed Japan's decision on Tuesday to buy the disputed islands, which could contain valuable gas reserves, from a private Japanese owner. Beijing called that decision a provocative violation of its sovereignty.
Meanwhile the Foreign Ministry announced yesterday that China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping will attend a meeting with Southeast Asian nations later this week, signalling his return to diplomatic duties after skipping a series of events with foreign dignitaries.
Vice president Xi had been out of the public eye for almost two weeks, prompting rumors of ill health or worse.