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    » 08/22/2011, 00.00

    VIETNAM – CHINA

    Hanoi cracks down on protests, 50 anti-Chinese demonstrators arrested over South China Sea

    Thanh Thuy

    Plainclothes and uniformed police move against peaceful protesters, who were demonstrating near Haon Kiem Lake in downtown Hanoi. Students, intellectuals and ordinary citizens were among those who took to the streets against Chinese imperialism. The fate of five Vietnamese sailors arrested by the Chinese Navy remains unknown.
    Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Vietnamese police arrested about 50 people downtown Hanoi because for protesting against China’s claims in the South China Sea. Various activists and patriots, including students, intellectuals and ordinary citizens, took to the streets, shouting slogans against Vietnam’s powerful neighbour. Police eventually broke up the gathering.

    The incident is a sign that the dispute over islands could become a source of domestic divisions and lead to wider protests in Vietnam, echoing the Arab spring in the Middle East and North Africa. For this reason, the government moved decisively to stamp out the protest and enforce its “zero tolerance” policy towards dissent. The peaceful demonstrators who met near Haon Kiem Lake, in downtown Hanoi, were taken into custody.

    The authorities kept their words, as the Communist paper Hanoi Moi said they would. An official notice published in the paper had announced that “all necessary measures” would be taken and the right forces would be used to crack down on protests. The latter had begun on 5 June and were repeated each Sunday.

    Protesters oppose what they view as China’s expansionist claims in the South China Sea, which has been a hot point of contention between Vietnam, Philippines and China.

    The goal is to control the waters around the Spratly and Paracel Islands. The two archipelagos are almost uninhabited but are rich in oil, raw materials and fish.

    Beijing claims 85 per cent of the sea against the claims of countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.

    In its official pronouncement, China has described the South China Sea as an area of “vital interest” from a geographic, strategic and economic point of view. In the past, it has used asserted that interest on several occasions (for example, in 1974 and 1988).

    The Hanoi protest lasted only seven minutes. Uniformed police, aided by plainclothes officer, stopped the activists and led to two buses with darkened windows.

    At least 50 people were taken into custody. As they were pushed into the vehicles, they continued singing and shouting slogans like ‘Down with the Chinese Invasion’, ‘Let us protect Vietnam, our native motherland,’ and ‘Spratly and Paracel belong to Vietnam’.

    The group of demonstrators included students, intellectuals, artists, lawyers, writers and ordinary citizens. One of them said that the Vietnamese had “overcome fear” and were protesting to “protect our nation”.

    On a related front, nothing is known of the fate of five Vietnamese fishermen arrested by a Chinese Navy vessel on Thursday.

    Provincial authorities in Quảng Bình confirmed the incident, saying that they were seized inside disputed waters.

    The wife of the boat’s captain, Nguyễn Văn Thạnh, told the press that her “husband and his staff have not yet been released”. Instead, she said she received a ransom demand for “US$ 6.250” for their freedom.
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    See also

    11/03/2014 VIETNAM
    Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia find common ground against Beijing's "imperialism"
    Southeast Asian nations are increasingly concerned over repeated attacks by Chinese (paramilitary) boats against their fishing and commercial vessels. Hanoi stands with Manila as the latter sues China over maritime boundaries in an international court. Malaysia also join the fray, worried over Chinese incursion near James Island.

    01/04/2014 PHILIPPINES - CHINA
    South China Sea: Manila calls on UN to stop Beijing
    The Filipino government has filed a case before a UN tribunal, submitting 4,000 pages of evidence and more than 40 nautical maps. For China, Manila's request is a violation of "international law and the historical truth as well as against morality". Washington gets involved slamming China's "provocative and destabilising action" against Filipino ships. Increasingly, Beijing's foreign policy is becoming "aggressive."

    10/01/2014 CHINA - UNITED STATES
    Washington: Beijing's programs in South China Sea "provocative and dangerous"
    The U.S. government criticizes the Chinese government's new norms, which impose limitations and restrictions on foreign vessels in disputed waters. There is no justification in international law and the move threatens to exacerbate already tense relations in the area. Hanoi intervenes in the dispute.

    30/07/2010 CHINA – VIETNAM – US
    China’s claims in South China Sea cause sparks with United States and Vietnam
    After conducting a major drill, China’s Defence Ministry reiterates Chinese claims to sovereignty over the disputed sea. Washington says it is open to cooperation with Beijing in the area but not at any cost.

    30/05/2011 VIETNAM – CHINA
    Tensions between Beijing and Hanoi rise over maritime borders
    The Vietnamese government accuses China of fuelling regional tensions. A Chinese ship cuts the cables of a Vietnamese ship. Beijing rejects the charges, claiming instead that its jurisdictional rights have been violated. Anger is growing in Vietnam over Chinese greed.



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