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Les nouilles pimentent les tensions entre la Chine et le Japon


Wearing a camouflaged flak jacket at a counter shaped like a Chinese aircraft carrier, the manager of Beijing’s Diaoyu Islands Malatang Noodle Shop insists nevertheless that Japanese « friends » are welcome. The two countries are at loggerheads over the East China Sea islets which Tokyo controls and calls Senkaku and Beijing claims as Diaoyu. Both sides repeatedly send ships and aircraft to the area. Owner Lu He’s nationalist fervour is evident throughout the restaurant, replete with replica machine guns and national flags and a central counter modelled on China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

« We just have our stance, » he said, gesturing towards the heart behind his fake body armour. « The Diaoyu Islands belong to China, and this claim is made with our patriotic passion. » His wife and co-owner Zhang Yanchunzi, dressed in a military officer’s tunic, added: « ‘Diaoyu Islands belong to China’ was a phrase engraved deeply on our minds when we were young kids. So this matter is quite important to me, and to Chinese people. » Business was brisk when AFP visited, with about two dozen customers slurping spicy noodles under plastic military jets hanging from the ceiling, admiring a huge image of the islands plastered along two walls. Lu is embroiled in his own personal row with his property managers. He says they removed an advertising board for fear it could harm relations with Japanese tenants.

« It was not like what other (restaurants) said — ‘Japanese people and dogs are not allowed to enter’, » Lu said defensively. « We welcome people from abroad, including Japanese friends. » Customers eating delicacies including « Diaoyu hand grenades » (banana fritters) and « Diaoyu heavy artillery » (sweet potato balls) said they came to the restaurant to show support for the manager. « I cannot imagine why such a thing could be so insensitive, » said Chen Yonggang, taking a break from his spicy noodles with sheep’s intestines and pig lung. « This is bad and so unnecessary, » he added, referring to his bowl which was emblazoned with a Chinese flag in the shape of the largest of the disputed islands.

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