A Kyoto-themed shopping street in China's northeastern port city of Dalian suspended operation late last week amid growing criticism on the internet that Japan has been engaged in a "cultural invasion," state-run media reported.

The Global Times, a tabloid of the ruling Communist Party, said that there was controversy over the shopping street with the theme of the Japanese ancient capital, now a popular tourist spot, as Dalian was "previously colonized and deeply traumatized by the Japanese invasion." The street was just opened in late August.

Photo taken in June 2020 shows an area in the "Little Kyoto" Japan-themed shopping street in China's Dalian. (VCG/Getty/Kyodo)

Japanese culture has become popular in China in recent years. Many Chinese, however, are thought to basically harbor negative feelings about Japan against a backdrop of anti-Japanese education by the Communist-led government, foreign affairs experts said.

"Could it be another form of cultural invasion? We should raise the alarm," the newspaper quoted a social media user as saying.

In September 2020, a Japanese-style shopping street also began operation in China's southern province of Guangdong, but it was forced to be reformed under increasing criticism.

The shopping street in Dalian, costing about 6 billion yuan ($927 million), was developed by a local real estate agency in the city, according to the Global Times.

The newspaper quoted the operator of the "Little Kyoto" street as saying that trial operations had ended and it will tackle problems that emerged in the process.

Japan invaded a huge swath of China before the end of World War II that lasted until 1945. A large number of Chinese people, meanwhile, visited Japan before the novel coronavirus pandemic, making them interested in Japanese culture, including anime.

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