• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 4:37am

Vietnam allows anti-China protest over oil rig in disputed territory

Angry demonstrators stage noisy rallies outside Chinese missions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 May, 2014, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 12 May, 2014, 5:14pm

Watch: Large protests in Vietnam over China oil rig

Vietnam allowed several hundred demonstrators to stage a noisy rally outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi yesterday against Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in the contested South China Sea that has triggered a tense stand-off and raised fears of confrontation.

The country's authoritarian leaders keep a very tight grip on public gatherings for fear they could attract anti-government protesters.

This time, they appeared to give in to public anger that also provided them with the opportunity to register their own indignation at Beijing.

"This is the largest anti-Chinese demonstration I have ever seen in Hanoi," said war veteran Dang Quang Thang, 74.

"Our patience has limits. We are here to express the will of the Vietnamese people to defend our territory at all costs. We are ready to die to protect our nation."

Other protests, including one drawing more than 1,000 people in Ho Chi Minh City, took place in various locations around the country. For the first time, they were reported on enthusiastically by the state media.

The government has in the past forcibly broken up anti-China protests and arrested their leaders, many of whom are also campaigning for greater political freedoms and human rights.

Faced with "widespread anger" among the Vietnamese population over China's actions, the government had no option but to allow yesterday's protests to go ahead, said Professor Jonathan London at City University of Hong Kong.

"Suppressing public protest against what has occurred would be regarded as absolutely illegitimate behaviour," he said.

Vietnam's government immediately protested against the deployment of the oil rig on May 1, and sent a flotilla that was unable to break through a circle of more than 50 Chinese vessels protecting the facility. The Vietnamese coastguard released video of Chinese vessels ramming and firing water cannons at Vietnamese ships.

"We are infuriated by the Chinese actions," said Nguyen Xuan Hien, a lawyer who printed his own placard reading "Get Real. Imperialism is so 19th century". "We have come here so that the Chinese people can understand our anger," he said.

The latest confrontation in the disputed Paracel Islands, which China occupied from US-backed South Vietnam in 1974, has raised fears that tensions could escalate.

Vietnam says the islands fall within its continental shelf and a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. China claims sovereignty over the area and most of the South China Sea - a position that has brought Beijing in confrontation with other claimants, including the Philippines and Malaysia.

We have come here so that the Chinese people can understand our anger
Nguyen Xuan Hien, lawyer

The protest yesterday was the largest since 2011, when a Chinese vessel cut seismic survey cables leading to a Vietnamese oil exploration ship. Vietnam sanctioned protests for a few weeks, but then broke them up after they became a forum of anti-government sentiment.

In the past, journalists covering protests have been harassed and sometimes beaten and protesters bundled into vans.

It was a different scene yesterday in a park across the road from the Chinese mission, where speakers atop police vans were broadcasting accusations that China's actions violated the country's sovereignty. State television was on hand to record the event and men were handing out banners saying "We entirely trust the party, the government and the people's army."

While some demonstrators were clearly linked to the state, many others were ordinary Vietnamese outraged by China's actions. Some activists chose to stay away because of the state's involvement or implicit sanction of the event, according to online postings by dissident groups, but others showed up.

Watch: US senators: China sea actions 'deeply troubling’

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse


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Letter to Chinese
Dear Chinese people,
In the past, China has been invaded by other countries, so Chinese people also feel the pain and the loss when a foreign country was invaded.
I am a child of Vietnam. Certainly you can understand my feelings when our sovereignty is infringed by your army.
China has been invaded by other countries, so Chinese people also feel the pain and the loss when a foreign country was invaded.
Our nation has experienced many struggles with your country and other empires. We had lost so much. Therefore, we want to live in peace, friendship and cooperation. We always hope that our both countries will follow the desire and achievements that were gained by a great effort of President Ho Chi Minh and President Mao Zedong as well as the predecessors of the two countries. We hope

Thank you for your letter my friend! It seems that neither the Chinese nor the Vietnamese peoples have come to terms with our histories...therefore we truly deserve each other! At least I admire you for respecting Mr. Ho...in China, we have psychopaths who don't know how to forgive and are still whinging about Mr. Mao...regarding our territorial dispute - that's unfortunate...didn't we use to be the same country / people and then had a divorce?? Well, we didn't agree the divorce terms...
How About
Touche J Cheng.
I cannot fathom the CCP-hating crowd nor would I hazard a guess when they had their baptism of fire - most of them haven't even heard of Joseph MaCarthy so I guess it's what they weren't 'enlightened' on Communism that led to the political bigotry. Communism USSR and China has done more to help those who survived the WW2 than the western media or syllabi would like you to know. It's also the one 'ism', that the western crony capitalists cannot buy, the one 'ism' that USA and the West fears and still actively campaigns to neutralize.
If the Vietnamese ideological machine has dropped its balls I guess the street protests is symptomatic of one thing- that the USA has bought them out, in any case orchestrated. Ironical and pitiful because it's on this very soil that the valiant Vietnamese kicked out the French and the Yanks...
Formerly ******
Hey, How About, AKA, Dumb Dude:
Where in your head do you conjure such silliness as "political bigotry?" So, in your mind, anyone who opposed a system of government responsible for the murder of over 100 million is a "political bigot?" Sheesh, dude, clowns such as you are the greatest threat to freedom.
You're such a child.
(BTW, who has been following you around clicking "Dislike" under your posts? One may only click once, you know.)
凡在頭做你召喚作為"政治偏見?"這種愚蠢所以,在你腦子裡任何人反對政府系統的謀殺負責超過 1 億人是"政治偏見"嗎?白癡,哥們,如你是自由的最大威脅的小丑。
How About
Ptui, you are better and smarter than everyone else, does that settle your angst?
But here, Einstein, is something you can take away with: those who come to read SCMP comments don't need to have the chinese translation and those who can only read chinese won't come here... unless your comments are meant for the trawler searches? Didn't I see you giving out the Falungong Epoch Times in TST?
...and, errm, the Chinese ...
How About
dienw, you are in this timezone right? Try Valium or Prozac but should the symptoms persist, together with Xanax. Hack I'll write your the prescriptions if your GP won't!
Nobody can say that the great enlightened communist republic of Vietnam doesn't respect human rights and promote democracy. Vietnamese in Hanoi can freely demonstrate and voice their opinions. Vietnam is becoming a truly democratic and free society better than even the false democracy in the USA. The South Vietnamese refugees that left in their millions after their military defeat made possible by massive Chinese military and economic aid will certainly eat their hearts out. The poor buggers have to flee on flimsy boats with the lucky ones not only having to escape the Thai pirates that slaughtered thousands of them but have to endure years of deprivation in refugee camps in HK and elsewhere. Now these ex-South Vietnamese will now be regretting that the country they left behind is even better and more democratic with better human rights than in their adopted countries in Australia, the US etc. Long live Uncle Ho. However the next time another Uncle Ho comes to Beijing to ask for help in repelling the US invaders, the Chinese authorities should tell the bugger to F off.
Uncle had came to many countries not only China, among supporters. Thankful, there is only one China found chance to "steal" island and sea. Not only the oil rig, they did lot of dirty tricks to destroy VN economy. Yes definitely, Vietnamese will never find support from China again.
Sigh....! Vietnam...... It owes Communists a lot.




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