Crowd noise is the same in any language, a cottony roar, and is my background this afternoon. Hundreds of soldiers and police have cordoned off an area of Tian He road, a major east-west corridor, in Guangzhou’s downtown. It’s 9.18 day. 81 years ago Japanese set off a bomb on their own railway near what was Mukden, now Shenyang, in northern China, blaming it on Chinese dissidents and using it as a pretext to invade Manchuria. The wounds aren’t healed, and the Diaoyu islands have picked it open. Guangzhou has had some anti-Japanese protests in the last few days, approved by government officials, but today’s is the largest.
Yesterday barricades in the ubiquitous chinese-truck blue were placed around Teem Mall but not joined. I saw riot helmets, shields, and truncheons leaning against a wall at one of the entrances. Police were around, looking as listless as always.
Today, the barricades are joined in force as are the police, and those riot tools are on heads and arms and in hands on the road, and the police and other people look more serious. Jusco, the Japanese supermarket where I get my lunch, is closed and guarded. Huge advertising signs for Nissan and Kyocera are covered.
At around 2:30 the marchers arrived from the west. There are surprisingly few of them and they are outnumbered by security and spectators. Not much is happening. It will last a little longer, I figure. The protestors will head to the buses and subway, the security people will get into their trucks, and the upper-tiered officials will get into their Lexuses and Toyota SUVs and drive home on untrafficked streets.