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China boats in disputed waters as anti-Japan rallies spread

Tens of thousands of anti-Japan demonstrators rallied across China over disputed islands yesterday, a key historical anniversary, as Tokyo said 11 Chinese government vessels had entered the area.

BEIJING // Tens of thousands of anti-Japan demonstrators rallied across China over disputed islands yesterday, a key historical anniversary, as Tokyo said 11 Chinese government vessels had entered the area.

The moves followed several days of protests, some of them violent, that have raised international concerns of conflict between two of the world's top three economies, with Japanese companies shutting or scaling back production.

Several thousand people gathered outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, some throwing eggs and others carrying portraits of Mao Zedong, the late leader venerated by some for standing up to Japan. "China is not a weak country anymore. We should no longer be bullied by Japan," said Jiu Longtou, 31, a factory worker. "Diaoyu Island is Chinese and we should protect it from Japan."

A Japanese coastguard spokesman said 10 Chinese surveillance ships and a fisheries patrol boat had avoided territorial waters around the islets in the East China Sea but entered an area known as the contiguous zone.

But China's defence minister, Liang Guanglie, said earlier that Beijing reserved the right to take "further actions" over the islands, which are controlled by Japan, while hoping for "a peaceful and negotiated solution".

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