China video of man beaten in anti-Japan riot spurs soul-searching
Anti-Japan protests in China have hurt businesses and people, including a Chinese driver left partially paralyzed after an attack in Xian.
September 27, 2012
By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times
BEIJING — The $15,000 that factory worker Li Jianli saved up to buy his white Toyota Corolla turned out to be nowhere near the costliest part of the deal. He nearly paid with his life.
Li was out in the central city of Xian on a recent Saturday afternoon looking for an apartment for his soon-to-be-married son when he happened to steer the car into one of the anti-Japanese demonstrations that were rocking China.
Then Li made another mistake: He leaped out of the car to plead with the mob not to trash the vehicle, which he'd bought just last year. A burly young man smashed him over the head with a U-shaped steering-wheel lock.
Li, 51, now lies in hospital bed, partially paralyzed as a result of the Sept. 15 beating. A video of the beating was released Wednesday by a reporter with the Beijing Youth Daily, prompting a round of soul-searching over the violence that engulfed China this month.
The anti-Japanese riots, prompted by a dispute over some uninhabited islands, have taken a psychological and economic toll on China. Japanese automakers Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Suzuki announced this week that they were pausing their production in China because of reduced demand, a move that will harm Japanese joint ventures with Chinese companies and potentially cost Chinese jobs. The number of flights between Japan and China have been reduced as well.
"Japan will really be hurt because China is its largest trading partner, but this is not so good for China either," said Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology. "We are looking at billions of dollars of losses coming out of this conflict."
In protests in more than 80 cities, Japanese-owned factories and stores were looted and set on fire. Hundreds if not thousands of Japanese-model cars were overturned and destroyed. In isolated cases, Japanese nationals were attacked. Two in Shanghai went to hospitals for treatment, but their injuries were not serious, a spokesman for the Japanese Embassy said.
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