BEIJING--A leading Chinese intellectual is spearheading a petition drive via the Internet to restore calm to Japan-China relations, now whipped into a frenzy over a territorial dispute.
For her efforts, social critic, scholar and author Cui Weiping has been branded a traitor in some quarters. But there is also strong support for her private-level attempts to end the hysteria over sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Cui, 56, is well known for her opinions on freedom of speech and human rights.
Cui and her supporters drew up a 10-point proposal to the Chinese people and made it public on Oct. 4.
By the evening of Oct. 7, she said 467 people had offered their signatures. They include noted human rights activist Hu Jia and law scholar He Weifang, as well as doctors, journalists and students.
In her call, Cui and her followers criticized violent anti-Japan demonstrations that raged in Chinese cities in September, saying, "We are deeply distressed."
She also expressed dismay at the cultural and economic fallout caused by the dispute, saying, "That is distinctly lacking in wisdom."
The group pointed out that the Chinese government "is responsible for leading the public to think and act rationally."
On the issue of sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu Islands in China, the group said Japan's reasoning "lacks persuasiveness."
She said the issue should be shelved for future generations to figure out, as advocated by the late reformist leader Deng Xiaoping.
The group also had words of caution for Chinese trying to inflame nationalism.
"We have seen many Japanese make efforts in apologizing for the war and rebuilding peace. Japan also supported China’s development. Looking straight at history, we need to have a new awareness of Japan and make fresh judgments about it."
Cui's blog has been peppered with comments like "traitor" since she started the campaign.
"Those who offered their signatures are courageous people," she said. "Behind them, there are even more citizens who are being pressed not to raise their voices, even though they feel something is wrong with the atmosphere that prevails today."
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