Chinese rally online against Japan

Beijing, March 28 | Updated: Mar 29 2005, 05:30am hrs
Millions of Chinese have signed an online petition to oppose Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, domestic media said on Monday.

Many Chinese harbour deep resentment of Japan's war-time past and what they see as its failure to own up to atrocities. Beijing estimates up to 35 million Chinese were killed or wounded by invading Japanese troops from 1931 to 1945.

Petitions on four major Chinese internet portals were expected to bear as many as 10 million signatures, including those of overseas Chinese, by Monday night, the Beijing-based Legal Evening News said.

The signature drive was started last month by several overseas groups critical of Japan's World War Two past.

It picked up momentum and began appearing on major domestic Web sites after U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appeared to back Japan for a permanent council seat on March 21 as part of the most wide-ranging reforms to the world body since its creation in 1945.

I have never seen such a large-scale signing activity in which so many people are united in their opinions in the nearly 10 years the Internet has been developing in China, Chen Tong, editor-in-chief of popular portal, was quoted as saying. China had 100 million internet users among its 1.3 billion population at the end of 2004.

Chen said the petition would be presented to the UN, the Japanese Embassy in Beijing and relevant Chinese government departments. More than 10,000 people signed a 10-metre (33-ft) red banner bearing an anti-Japanese slogan in the southern city of Guangzhou.