China

China Attempts to Quell Anti-Japan Protests

Chaos over ownership of islands more than authoritarian regime expected

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The Chinese government took steps Tuesday to quell at least for now a troubling spike in domestic political tumult, tightly controlling anti-Japanese protests that over the weekend had threatened to spin out of control and concluding the highly-sensitive trial of a former police chief tied the biggest political scandal the country has seen in decades.

The waves of thousands of demonstrators who showed up at the Japanese embassy in Beijing were closely corralled, providing no repeat of the demonstrations Saturday in dozens of cities that descended into rock and egg-throwing melees that commentators described as the most serious anti-Japan protests since the two countries normalized relations in 1972.

Beijing is furious that the Japanese government announced last week that it had bought three islands in an uninhabited chain that both nations claim, and the weekend demonstrations were almost certainly state-sanctioned. But the chaos that followed seemed to unnerve the authoritarian rulers here.