Chinese nationalist sentiments against Japan boiled over on China’s Internet after Nasdaq-listed online portal and game services provider NetEase (163.com) posted a topic on its homepage on March 26 called, “Thanking Japan for loan assistance [to China]”. According to evidence from CMP sources within China, at least 900,000 Internet users posted messages speaking out against the NetEase topic and its editor’s note, which has now been removed, and threats have been made against the Website’s editor and his family.

The appearance of the NetEase column and fallout in the online community follow Japan’s announcement last week that it would temporarily freeze the awarding of new development loans to China amid a chilling of bilateral relations [more coverage at CNN.com].

“Japan announced on March 23 that it would temporarily freeze loans [to China] … The impact of this will have on Japan-China relations and on development projects in China is yet to be seen,” read the original editor’s note on NetEase. “But as Chinese of ‘ceremony and propriety’ we really must say a heartfelt thank you to the aid Japan has given over the years, particularly as we bid [Japan’s] aid to China goodbye”.

The suggestion Chinese should be grateful to Japan quickly whipped up enmity in China, where nerves are still raw over Japan’s invasion in the early 20th century. Japan’s alleged failure to apologize to China has harried Japan-China relations for years and tensions have heightened in recent months, centering on Prime Minister Koizumi’s controversial visits to a Japanese war shrine [Forbes coverage here].

By Tuesday morning [March 28] the NetEase column had been removed from the Website, but portions and commentary were already available on numerous other sites.

[Coverage at zaobao.com]
[Postings at military hobbiest bbs]

[Posted by David Bandurski, 11:44am, March 28, 2006]