Jeffrey N Wasserstrom “China’s political colours: from monochrome to palette” http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/institutions/china-s-political-colours-from-monochrome-to-palette
The forbidden city's renewed sacredness became clear when a popular television personality spearheaded a campaign for the removal of a Starbucks outlet at the edge of the old palace complex. If the network of imperial buildings had still been seen as a polluted and degenerate space, such a protest would not have made any sense (nor been successful, as it ultimately was). It is equally notable that, three decades after Confucianism was being denounced in virulent campaigns that derided it for elevating men above women and intellectuals above workers, a visit to Confucius’s birthplace in Qufu is seen as a natural way to pay homage to one of the “great thinkers” of world history. The citizens of the PRC are encouraged to take pride in the fact that China produced such a sage.
This new eclecticism influences much more than tourism. It has also given rise to a mix-and-match approach in official propaganda. Hu Jintao and other leaders now move easily from appeals to "social harmony" ("yellow") to reminders that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) saved the nation from Japanese imperialists ("red") to references to the importance - evident in the (albeit so far limited) acceptance of aid following the Sichuan earthquake - of opening up to the west ("blue").
There are darker sides, however, to the new eclecticism. It is a great loss, for example, that in mixing "red" with other colours some of the most admirable elements of the revolutionary vision - such as the concern with female equality that resulted in a revised marriage law being the first major piece of national legislation introduced by the communists - have largely disappeared from view. The "blue" current that has swept through China to take its place has been the sort of objectification of women in the interests of selling products that has long been familiar in the west.
Another disturbing - and, in light of the reaction of Chinese media and people to the Tibetan and Olympic-torch protests, topical - side-effect of China's recent colour shift has been the way that "red" and "yellow" themes have been blended in official history textbooks in a manner that fuels a vehement nationalism. It is important to note that - some western media commentary notwithstanding - there are multiple forms of Chinese patriotism and nationalism in play just now, not a single ferocious kind. But it is unarguable that one rising variety - fuelled partly by the internet - combines an obsession with past imperialist humiliations and a chauvinistic vision of the Han Chinese as an ethnic group with a uniquely glorious tradition of accomplishment.
James C Farrer*1 “China and Japan: from symbolism to politics” http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/china-and-japan-the-symbolism-of-politics
(......) Hu's reference reflects the way that China (as well as enduring brutal occupation and war) has absorbed many elements of modern culture from Japan. It is hard to imagine a western leader acquiring or displaying the same cultural familiarity with Japan.
In addition to these cultural threads, there are profound social links between these countries. For most of the past century, China has been the source of the largest number of foreign students in Japan. Chinese represent over two-thirds of all the foreign university students and the majority of foreign "trainees" (de facto guest-workers) in Japan. Chinese now top the lists of foreigners marrying Japanese men and women, and of foreigners naturalising as Japanese citizens. Within a few years the total number of Chinese living in Japan is likely to surpass even the long-term Korean population.
Moreover, these human flows are in both directions. As the largest foreign investor in China, Japanese managers and engineers have long been a presence in Chinese cities. More recently, Japanese residents in China have expanded to include thousands of young people studying Chinese, working at entry-level wages for Japanese and Chinese firms, and running their own small businesses in China's major cities. In Shanghai, the Japanese consulate estimates that there are roughly 100,000 Japanese in the city at any given time, making the Japanese the largest foreign population in the city. Japanese also top the list of nationalities of foreign spouses in international marriages registered in Shanghai in recent years.
Although these demographic flows are small by the scale of (for example) United States-Mexico flows, they provide an important set of links and a layer of mutual understanding that run more deeply than the nationalist vitriol often found on internet discussions.