BEIJING (AP) — China was returning to normalcy Wednesday after angry protests over Japan’s wartime occupation and Tokyo’s recent purchase of islands also claimed by Beijing.
Beijing sanitation workers were using high-pressure hoses to erase the stains of paint bombs hurled at the Japanese Embassy the day before. Road blocks were removed, allowing for normal traffic around the embassy, and police shooed pedestrians away.
Japanese shops, restaurants and factories in China that closed to avoid being targeted by protesters were open again.
Large and sometimes violent anti-Japan protests roiled many Chinese cities over the weekend, triggered by the Japanese government’s purchase last week of the disputed East China Sea islands. More demonstrations followed Tuesday on the 81st anniversary of Japan’s invasion of China, an emotional remembrance that further stoked the outrage.
In Beijing, the bitterness spilled over to the nearby U.S. Embassy, with around 50 protestors surrounding the car of U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke and trying to block him from entering the compound.
The U.S., a close ally of Japan, has said it is staying out of the territorial dispute, but it also been the target of Chinese anger.
The State Department said in a statement that Locke was unhurt and that diplomats have expressed concerns to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
The incident comes amid heightened vigilance for American diplomats following violent attacks on U.S. embassies in Libya, Yemen and Egypt. The statement said embassy officials have asked the Chinese government to do everything possible to protect American facilities and personnel.
Though the demonstrations have wound down, at least temporarily, there has been no progress in resolving the dispute bedeviling relations between the two Asian economic powerhouses.
The islands are tiny rock outcroppings that have been a sore point between China and Japan for decades. Japan has claimed the islands since 1895. The U.S. took jurisdiction after World War II and turned them over to Japan in 1972.
The disagreement escalated last week when the Japanese government said it was purchasing some of the islands from their private owner. Japan considers it an attempt to thwart a potentially more inflammatory move by the governor of Tokyo, who had wanted not only to buy the islands but develop them. But Beijing sees Japan’s purchase as an affront to its claims and its past calls for negotiations.
Beijing has sent patrol ships inside Japanese-claimed waters around the islands, and some state media have urged Chinese to show their patriotism by boycotting Japanese goods and canceling travel to Japan
– Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.