Pro-Vietnam protesters march in army attire against China's 'arrogant' territorial claims

Activists angry over Beijing's 'arrogant' territorial claims in the South China Sea

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 5:43am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 9:02am

Dozens of Vietnamese living in Hong Kong took to the city's streets yesterday for the fourth time this year in protest against China's "arrogant" territorial claims in the South China Sea.

About 40 protesters decked out in Vietnamese navy, army and traditional garb marched from the government headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty, to the China Resources Building in Wan Chai, where the Commissioner's Office of the Foreign Ministry is located.

They held national flags, portraits of the late Communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh and banners with slogans such as "China, stop threatening Vietnam sea police" and "Hoang Sa (disputed islands) belong to Vietnam".

They also blasted the Vietnamese national anthem and patriotic military tunes through portable loudspeakers.

The disputed islands, better known as the Paracel Islands but dubbed the Xisha Islands by China and the Hoang Sa Islands by Vietnam, are claimed by both countries.

China's controversial move in May to relocate an oil rig near the islands in the South China Sea sparked anger among the Vietnamese and triggered a wave of unrest across Vietnam as thousands of protesters attacked industrial zones. A second rig was dispatched last month.

"We want to tell everyone that the islands belong to Vietnam," said protest organiser and longtime Hong Kong resident Annie Mo Pak-fung. "The Chinese government has been very arrogant and aggressive, and all we want is peace in our territorial waters."

The first of the series of Hong Kong-based protests by Vietnamese over the islands was held in May, after the first oil rig was mobilised. Subsequent protests by the group were held throughout last month, including one during the annual June 4 vigil.

Yesterday's protest was to have been attended by 300 protesters, but only a fraction of the number turned up. Mo said many were busy and had to work.