Hundreds of people in Vietnam protested in front of the Chinese diplomatic missions in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City against what they saw as Chinese incursions in Vietnamese territory in the disputed South China Sea.
Protesters sang patriotic songs and carried banners in Vietnamese, Chinese, and English, with slogans such as “We Oppose China Creating Instability,” and “The Spratlys and Paracels Belong to Vietnam.” Others carried the national flag of Vietnam.
Around four hundred protesters marched to the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, gathering in front of it until the crowd was dispersed by police.
Several hundred also gathered by the Chinese consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon.
An elderly woman watching the protest in front of Chinese Embassy in Hanoi told RFA, “Students coming to the protest question why China occupies the Paracel Islands. They join the protest to claim back the islands and [for] justice.”
“The police are bringing in ropes and barriers to prevent people approaching the embassy area and are driving people [away],” she said as the demonstrations unfolded.
The calls to rally came after Chinese boats allegedly harassed two Vietnamese survey vessels over the last week. In one incident, three Chinese boats were reported to have severed the survey cables of a vessel operated by PetroVietnam.
The protests were announced by netizens using social media, including Facebook, text messaging, blogs, and chat forums.
Le Hieu Dang, a former deputy chief of Ho Chi Minh City’s Fatherland Front, a group linked to the Community Party of Vietnam, said he and several well-known figures in Vietnam joined the protests.
They included researcher Nguyen Dinh Dau, French-Vietnamese citizen Andre Ho Cuong Quyet, Huynh Tan Mam, a former president of the Saigon Students’ Association, East Sea researcher Dinh Kim Phuc, poets Do Trung Quan and Nguyen Duy and academician Tuong Lai, according to Le Hieu Dang.
“We are waiting for the government to have a ‘hard’ attitude towards China as well as efficient measures in dealing with what China is doing in the East Sea,” he added.
The protests are the first anti-Chinese demonstrations in Vietnam since December 2007, when students and intellectuals rallied to support the claims of the government to the uninhabited, resource-rich Spratly and Paracel islands.
The Spratly Islands are claimed by China, Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service and translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.