Sino-Japanese Apprehension

At the Beijing airport, border security personnel yesterday refused the entry into the PRC of Japanese scholar Naoko Mizutani on the grounds that she was a supporter of Uighur indepdence.  Huanqiu Shibao reported on the incident, basing its information somewhat on this Yomiuri Shimbun report, which I include below:

Chinese authorities refused to allow a Chuo University lecturer who has been studying Uygur issues to enter the country after her plane landed in Beijing on Saturday, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. Observers said it is unusual for a Japanese to be denied entry to China, and that it suggests Beijing remains on edge over the massive riots that erupted in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in July.

After Naoko Mizutani arrived at Beijing Capital Airport from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, she was summoned by Chinese authorities and told she was not permitted to enter the country. The authorities refused to tell Mizutani why she had been barred from China, she added. Mizutani, who has written a book titled “Chugoku-o Owareta Uiguru-jin” (Uygurs expelled from China), had to immediately return to Tokyo.

What’s interesting is what the Huanqiu Shibao, in its subtly titled article “中国拒绝日本支持“疆独”学者入境 日媒关注” adds to the above report:

日本一位不愿意透露姓名的中国问题专家对《环球时报》表示,中国政府这样做是可以理解的。在中国看来,热比娅的行为是分裂中国的行为,支持热比娅就是支持 分裂中国。世界上恐怕任何一个国家都不会接受希望分裂自己国家的人入境。日本学者中岛岭雄曾经提出中国在未来应该分裂成为7块地区,这个论点后来被李登辉 发展成为“两国论”。事后,中国就多次拒绝中岛岭雄申请访华签证。这次,中国拒绝水谷尚子入境再次表明中国可以同意外国持不同政见的学者入境,但不会允许 在行动上支持分裂中国的外国学者入境。  A Japanese specialist in Chinese affairs who did not wish to disclose his identity told Huanqiu Shibao that “For China’s government to do this [e.g., to refuse entry to Mizutani] is understandable.  In China’s view, [Xinjiang independence activist and exile] Rebiya [Khadeer]’s activities are actitives meant to break apart China, so to support Rebiya is to support the breakup of China.  On this world, no country should have to fear rejecting people from entering its borders who hope for the breakup of that country.  Japanese scholar Mineo Nakajima has already stated that China should, in the end, be broken into seven districts, and after putting forward this theory, Lee Teng-hui [former President of Taiwan] established his “Two-State Theory.” After this incident, China rejected Nakajima’s application for a visa multiple times.  This time, China refused Mizutani to enter China again not because China can’t agree with the idea of scholars with differing political views entering the country, but because it can’t accept foreign scholars entering China’s borders who act in support of splitting China.”  [rough translation by Adam Cathcart]

First off, this kind of anonymous quotation seems like a typical Global Times plant, something unverifiable dreamed up in the editing room.  Keep in mind, this is the same publication that quotes from anonymous netizens in stories on Ribiya Khadeer’s visit to Japan, meaning that sentences like “How could a criminal of China become an honorable guest in Japan? Damn it! China should play hard in foreign policies” (actual quote) make their way into the body of the story.  And comparing Mizutani, an obviously thoughtful professor of about 44 years of age, to the abrasive senior “anti-China hero” Mineo Nakajima seems like  a stretch.

Mizutani Naoko, via Deutsche Welle Chinese service

More likely, China is trying to chill speech like the following from foreign scholars who deal with Tibet or Xinjiang (excerpt from an AP story of July 2009):

The July 5 [2009] riot in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi was sparked by “explosion of frustration” by Uyghurs over “destruction of the Uyghur language, religion and culture” by Chinese authorities, Naoko Mizutani said in a recent telephone interview.


The incident left nearly 200 dead and 1,800 others injured, making it China’s worst ethnic violence in decades.

“Chinese authorities recently demolished architecture symbolizing Uyghur culture and the old town in Kashgar in what they claim was for the city’s redevelopment. The authorities ban local civil servants from worshipping in mosques,” said Mizutani, a lecturer at Tokyo’s Chuo University who has conducted hearings on Uyghur exiles abroad.

“In the past few years, (the authorities) have made regulations requiring (schools) from kindergartens to universities to use Chinese, not Uyghur, for education,” she said, adding all such moves threaten the Uyghurs’ ethnic identity.

Mizutani, 43, said she suspects that Chinese authorities are torturing Uyghurs arrested in connection with the riot.

“My survey has found indescribable forms of torture such as stabbing men’s sex organs with horse tail hair and confining (suspects) in dark prison cells for days,” she said. “It is also not rare to see women who have been raped.”

Mizutani urged the Chinese government to accept inspections from abroad, and called on the government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to stop using torture to coerce confessions.

The Japanese researcher believed the riot occurred “spontaneously,” brushing aside accusations that self-exiled Uyghur rights leader Rebiya Kadeer masterminded it.

“Uyghur organizations outside China are not monolithic, and inner situation of the World Uyghur Congress is complicated,” she said. “I know Ms. Rebiya in person, but she has no power to directly lead protests in Xinjiang because she finds difficulties even in uniting Uyghurs outside China.”

Being aware of such circumstances, Chinese authorities have denounced the Washington-based Kadeer and the Munich-based congress to weaken dissatisfied Uyghur forces in China and exile organizations abroad, she said.

Mizutani dismissed anger among Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group, at the protest actions of Uyghurs.

Noting that Han Chinese receive considerable financial support and preferential treatment from the Xinjiang government, just like in Tibet, she said Han Chinese often fail to recognize they are “hurting the feelings of Uyghurs.”

What the Chinese Communist Party does to minority groups is the same as what Japan did in former Manchuria (before and during World War II) — a colonial policy that deprives people of land and the language,” Mizutani said, urging Chinese authorities to alter that policy toward minority ethnic groups.

When a Japanese scholar goes after the CCP for Manchukuo-style tactics in Western China, she is either a. incredibly gutsy, b. aware of what she speaks, c. intensely provocative, or d. some combination of a.-c., with an outside possibility at all times that this is all some complex locution which Japanese right-wing figures might love. (Huanqiu Shibao avoides getting into any Japanese right wing groups’ excitement over her expulsion from China, but does mention that the scholar tried to enter China without a visa under the new regulations in which Japanese can visit China for up to 15 days without a visa for purposes of tourism).

Apparently scholars like Mizutani, it seems, are not supposed to share the stage in Tokyo when Ribiya Khadeer makes speeches there supporting “East Turkestan Independence.”  Yes indeed!  Get rid of all that unnecessary historical context that scholars bring, and then the world will certainly be a better place.

And, if I’m not mistaken, Mizutani has a good grasp of historical context not just in Xinjiang, but in the broader Sino-Japanese relationship.  She has penned two books on anti-Japanese sentiment in China, including this 2005 text on the role that anti-Japanese sentiment plays in the construction of Chinese patriotism, and this one entitled : “Before ‘Anti-Japanese’: Reminscences of China’s Japan Hands.”   Her other works on war memory, comparing Japanese to German, are shared here by a Chinese blogger, meaning that her intellectual achievments might have some value for Chinese readers if only stripped of their emphasis on ethnonationalism or criticism of the CCP.

In other news, China is watching Japanese media stories closely about Chinese economic expansion into Africa, wondering what kind of Japanese person would oppose it, while noting that Japan is accellerating its aid programs to Africa substantially in a new arena of Sino-Japanese competition.

Then we have a Global Times editorial in English encouraging Chinese to look at Japan’s example and learn from it:

Mention of Japan stirs both awe and antipathy among many Chinese. The recent fiasco of Toyota seems to be yet another example adding to Japan’s decline from its past glory.

Again, Chinese people received the news with mixed feelings.

Has Japan run out of steam in the race against Western developed countries? Will Japan’s experience be repeated by other Asian countries, many of which have charted the Japanese growth model to the prosperity? Japan’s history of ups and downs offers much food for thought.

In terms of inspiring awe and fear, there have been several stories recently in the Chinese press about (and photo galleries are available on each link) joint US-Japan air force manuevers, Japan’s aquisition of a giant transport plane (longer story here), and fighter jets.  I would post photos of all of them, but they might give you nightmares.   Headlines like “Japan manufactures huge transport plane which can be modified into a bomber” never fail to perk my ears up, anyway.

Japanese Self Defense Force Air Force F-2A aircraft, via Huanqiu Shibao

And let’s not forget, when apprehension towards Japanese military development emerges, notes on India are rarely far behind:

India is manufacturing tanks -- via Huanqiu, click image for story

Finally, China’s new ambassador to Japan has arrived in Tokyo to start work.  Cheng Yonghua is proficient in Japanese, having studied in Japan from 1975-1977, likely via the efforts of CCP “Japan hand” Liao Chengzhi.  Given what is going on in Beijing, it’s quite a day to be arriving.


  1. Adam,

    I totally agree it is very lame for Huanqiu Shibao (and other Chinese media outlets) to often resort to quoting some “anonymous experts” who wholeheartedly agree with the official stance on whatever the subject matter is. And these “experts” tend to be foreign ones most of the time. As if they could find some foreign “experts” to agree with them their argument is more convincing or has more merits. Very lame indeed. Inferiority complex at play. I do not understand why the Chinese attach so much importance to whatever foreigners say about her, praises or complaints. China will truly grow up when they no longer give a damn about what foreigners say (sort of like the US). As to denying her a visa, sure they are a bit unnecessarily paranoid (again), but the Chinese government doesn’t need to explain its decision to deny Mizutani a visa at all as such sovereign issues are not to be questioned. If they were smart enough they should have just said that this type of 14-day-visa-exemption visit is for tourist purposes only and Mizutani’s itinerary simply doesn’t fit the bill.

    1. @Juchechosunmanse, If they were smart enough they should have just said that this type of 14-day-visa-exemption visit is for tourist purposes only and Mizutani’s itinerary simply doesn’t fit the bill.

      Agreed; it does seem a bit odd to have their actual justification coming out through the mouth of a (probably imaginary) “foreign expert.” I wonder if studies have been done about how people read the news in mainland China, e.g., do readers actually believe that a foreign expert who wishes to remain anonymous would parrot the CCP line precisely, or do they just screen out the messenger and understand that this is how Zhongyang sees things? Interesting in any case…

      Make sure to check out Just Recently’s post on this; it seems China Daily has picked up the story and added some detail as well.

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