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LIBERTY TIMES, UNITED DAILY NEWS (Taiwan), BBC

Worldcrunch

BEIJING- Some 20,000 irate Chinese protesters besieged the Japanese embassy in Beijing on Saturday, venting their anger over the Diaoyu Islands dispute that has created the most combustible conflict between the two Asian powers in memory.

The demonstrators climbed trees, burned the Japanese flag, shouted that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China and threw stones into the embassy compound, reports the Liberty Times daily of Taiwan.

At least a dozen different Chinese cities have witnessed attacks on Japanese citizens and property, reports the BBC. The two countries are in a hardening standoff over who has rights to the group of islands in the East China Sea, known in Japan as the Senkaku Islands.

The demonstrations have been building for five days after Japan announced plans to purchase the islands, in an attempt to effectively nationalize them. Saturday, however, the protests spread around the country, and swelled in the capital, forcing large numbers of Chinese riot police in Beijing to try to push the crowd back from Tokyo's embassy only to be insulted “Are you a Japanese or a Chinese?”, according to the United Daily News of Taiwan. (See video below)

Among other reports of violence was a Japanese car belonging to the police in Shenzhen turned over by protestors; a Japanese-owned supermarket in Qingdao, Shandong Province, looted by a crowd of 3000 people.

Despite the escalating violence -- Beijing hadn't seen such large riots since 1999 when U.S. military planes bombed the Chinese Embassy in Serbia -- no serious injuries were reported.

Beyond the street violence, Saturday morning also saw the websites of the Japanese Supreme Court and the Japanese economic newspaper, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, hacked into. The newspaper site had “Don’t invade Chinese territory” plastered in Chinese across the main page, according to the NHK television news relayed by Liberty Times. “This is the biggest Sino-Japanese diplomatic crisis since 1972” the Japanese media declared.

So far, the Chinese media are playing down this news and there is no specific mention of the attack on the embassy. All reports have come from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singaporean news sources.

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