In today’s news we read about multicity protests that burned flags and had to be broken up by police using water cannons.

So where were these demonstration? Cairo? Beruit? Karachi?

No, they were in China. The UK Telegraph has a story about these “spontaneous” demonstrations:

China seized by second day of violent anti-Japan protests More than 50 Chinese cities saw mass protests against Japan on Sunday, with police in the southern city of Shenzhen using tear gas and water cannons to dispel an angry mob….
More than 1,000 protesters in Guangdong burned Japanese flags and stormed a hotel next to the Japanese consulate, while in the central city of Chengdu there was even an attempt by protesters to take their grievances to the US consulate.

And coincidentally, 1000 fishing boats just happened to show up near those islands too.

True, the riots might be fueled by resentment of a Japan who killed a couple million Chinese civilians 60 years ago, but actually the demonstrations are about a Chinese land grab of a Japanese Island chain.

Now, anyone who lived through the “Cold war” knows how communist regimes always had “spontaneous” demonstrations to “prove” the evil of the west, so why should we wonder about these demonstration?

But this time, there is another reason: not just to push the party line, but to distract the populace from a couple of juicy scandals among the elites that run the communist government.

StrategyPage discusses how the government either whipped up the demonstrations, or at least let them occur, partly as a distraction from government corruption, and they note the latest scandal:

The government has lost another battle with the Internet. This one involved efforts to cover up a March incident where the 23 year old son of a senior Communist Party official died when his $800,000 sports car crashed…The dead man was a recent college graduate and made about $10,000 a year from a government job. Thus the question was how could he afford an expensive sports car. Even his father’s much higher salary could not pay for such luxuries. The government wanted to keep all this quiet because it was another reminder of all the corruption and nepotism in the senior leadership.

Yup. You could only get away with something like that in the US if your name was Kennedy (and I don’t mean Teddy).

But the Chinese land grabs go beyond a small island chain near Japan: Right now, with the President of the US busy fighting America’s enemies in the Republican party and Catholic church, China is trying to grab the entire West Philippine Sea, including right off the coast of Palawan within the borders of the Philippines, and has been harassing (and even sinking the boats of) local fishermen.

Again from StrategyPage:

By international law (a 1994 treaty), the waters 360 kilometers from land are considered the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the nation controlling the nearest land. The EEZ owner can control who fishes there and extracts natural resources (mostly oil and gas) from the ocean floor. But the EEZ owner cannot prohibit free passage or the laying of pipelines and communications cables. China has angered its neighbors by claiming all the islands (especially tiny uninhabited ones) in the South China Sea. This is a 3.5 million square kilometer (1.4 million square mile) area south of China and Taiwan, west of the Philippines, and north of Indonesia. China claims the entire area, as if it were one big EEZ. This has aroused the ire of the neighbors and caused them to unite against China.

There is also a land grab against India, to make things worse.

The Philippines took the dispute to the meeting of all the local countries (ASEAN), but the group was stopped from condemning China by it’s allies in Cambodia.

But the press in the US tends just to parrot the Chinese propaganda line, as this Reuters article shows:

The stakes have risen as the U.S. military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a bolder stance against Beijing.

No, actually what has changed is the administration in Manila, which no longer keeps quiet at the land grab in exchange for lovely gifts.

There actually have been a lot of demonstrations in VietNam about the land grab, and since most Vietnamese remember history, they might even be spontaneous.

You see, while the US is pulling back from being the Policeman of the world, China is happily insisting that every piece of land that the Chinese Emperor ever owned is part of China. Since VietNam was once part of China, they would be a prime target for a future land grab if China gets away with snatching the entire West Philippine Sea.

Ah, but don’t worry: The US has sent Leon Panetta to calm down the warlike Philippines, agreeing with China that they have the right to fish endangered species and ram local fishermen’s boats if they come too close to the “disputed” areas that until a few years ago were considered Philippine territory.

Presumably Panetta will reassure China that the US Navy is only in Subic Bay to  shop at the Duty free stores there, and to visit the lovely ladies in the recreational restaurants. I mean, claiming the US is now moving into these areas is a joke, because they never really left, but never mind.

The Chinese will use all in their power, not just military but economic power, to push their claims, and the locals are worried that the pullback of the “Pax Americana” means a loss of their independence.

So while the US press is trying to spin all the Middle Eastern demonstrations as a love fest for Obama, they will ignore the Chinese moves.

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NancyReyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines.

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