The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Vietnam allows hundreds to protest against China over deployment of oil rig in disputed sea

  • Print

HANOI, Vietnam - Vietnam allowed several hundred demonstrators to stage a noisy rally outside the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi on Sunday against Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in the contested South China Sea that has triggered a tense standoff 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.

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.

"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 to so that the Chinese people can understand out anger," he said.

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

The latest confrontation in the disputed Paracel Islands, which China occupied from U.S.-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.

The protest Sunday 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 had been harassed and sometimes beaten and protesters bundled into vans.

It was a different scene Sunday in a park across the road from the Chinese mission, where speakers atop police vans were broadcasting complaints about China's actions, 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.

The United States has criticized China's oil rig deployment as provocative and unhelpful. Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations who gathered Saturday in Myanmar ahead of Sunday's summit issued a statement expressing concern and urging restraint by all parties.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded by saying that the issue should not concern ASEAN and that Beijing was opposed to "one or two countries' attempts to use the South Sea issue to harm the overall friendship and co-operation between China and ASEAN," according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Someone or thing is taking advantage of the inactivity at Kapyong Barracks,hundreds of Canada Geese-See Joe Bryksa’s goose a day for 30 days challenge- Day 15- May 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should political leaders be highly visible on the frontlines of flood fights and other natural disasters?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google