BEIJING: Revolutionary leader Mao Zedong was the rallying icon of nationalism in the latest round of anti-Japanese protests in China. But he also provided a safe cover for criticism.
Some protesters say the portraits of Mao they carried were intended to contrast with today's China. They say the government appears "spineless" in its dispute with Japan over some islands in East China Sea.
A recent purchase by Tokyo of the islands has stirred up anti-Japanese sentiments among Chinese and set off protests across the country.
Beneath the scenes of the protests ran an undercurrent of grievances. Protesters held up signs on broader social issues such as lack of free speech, corruption, food safety, income inequality, and even the brutality of city code enforcers.