Anti-China Protests Continue in Vietnam, Despite Police Opposition

With tension lingering over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Vietnamese authorities issue defiant warnings on one hand while trying to contain public anti-Chinese sentiment on the other. Reuters reports on the police response to persistent anti-China protests:

Up to 200 people singing patriotic songs, carrying banners and flags and chanting slogans drew stares from bemused tourists and honks of approval from motorists as they filed around Hoan Kiem Lake.

How much longer protesters will be allowed to hold rallies on a sensitive issue – accusations that China violates Vietnam’s sovereignty in the South China Sea – is unclear.

Demonstrations are rare and normally snuffed out swiftly in Vietnam. Similar anti-China protests in Ho Chi Minh City, which drew more than 1,000 people, were shut down by police in June ….

The apparent attempt by police to forcibly end the demonstrations backfired when video on YouTube of a demonstrator being kicked in the face by an undercover policeman while being hauled onto a bus sparked an outcry online.

Meanwhile, the defence minister offered a pointed reminder of the navy’s 2009 order for six Russian submarines, intended to bolster Vietnam’s presence in the South China Sea. From the AFP:

“In the coming five to six years, we will have a submarine brigade with six Kilo 636-Class subs,” Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh was quoted as saying by the state-controlled Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Thanh said the fleet was “definitely not meant as a menace to regional nations,” according to the report.

“Buying submarines, missiles, fighter jets and other equipment is for self-defence,” he was quoted as saying.

See more on the South China Sea dispute, via CDT.

August 7, 2011 11:55 PM
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