China urged its citizens to be “calm” and “rational” a day after nationalistic protests against French supermarket Carrefour erupted across the country, drawing hundreds of people.
A front-page Sunday editorial in the People’s Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, called on people to cherish patriotism “while expressing it in a rational way”.
“As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner,” the commentary said. “The more complicated the international situation is, the more calmness, wisdom and unity need to be shown by the Chinese people.” It appeared to be an attempt by China’s leaders to rein in the growing nationalistic fervour sparked by Chinese anger over Tibetan anti-government protesters and disruptions of the Olympic torch relay.
On Saturday, protests against Carrefour spread to several cities across China, including Beijing, Wuhan, Kunming, Xian, and Qingdao, fuelled by anger over recent pro-Tibet demonstrations in Paris during the Olympic torch relay. Carrefour has been accused of supporting Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, which the company has denied. In Beijing, small protests broke out at one Carrefour and outside the French Embassy as well as the Beijing French School. Dozens of police, some in riot gear, quickly dispersed the crowd in front of the embassy.
Several thousand ethnic Chinese protesters marched outside CNN’s Hollywood, California office on Saturday to demand the firing of a commentator who recently compared China’s leaders to a “bunch of goons and thugs”.