Protest against China in Hanoi

Posted on July 22, 2012


More than 100 people marched in Hanoi this morning (Jul. 22, 2012) to protest against China for its continued acts of aggression in South China Sea against Vietnam, despite dire warnings of crackdowns from Hanoi’s leading communist government official Nguyen The Thao whose speech on Jul. 13, 2012 called for Hanoi’s security police to use force to suppress any movements that dare to stand up to China, whose demonstrators are accused of being instigated by counter-revolution reactionary forces [sic].

Vietnamese demonstrators against China in front of Hanoi’s on July 22, 2012, holding sign that states “Paracel & Spratly islands belong to Vietnam”.

Calls for nationwide demonstrations against China started on Jul. 20, 2012 from social networking sites such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and well-known blog sites such as Blogger and WordPress in spite of the government’s futile efforts to block these sites from reaching their audiences.

When asked by VOA Vietnamese the night before about the likely chance of a nationwide demonstration on July 22, 2012, Nguyen Khac Toan, a freelancing news reporter and dissident in Hanoi, answered that “the communist party is very fearful of letting peaceful street demonstrations getting out of control and if they go unabated, that  could lead to the downfall of the government, and therefore it has to act swiftly to “put out the fire” before it has a chance to overthrow the communist party.  The government has continually harassed, intimidated, followed and jailed the nucleus of the street demonstration movement.”, and predicted that a concerted effort of organizing demonstrations against China throughout Vietnam is very unlikely to happen.

China was successful in getting this year’s ASEAN meeting of foreign ministers from coming up with a communique at the end of the summit in which host country Cambodia refused to mention its members’ concerns about China’s acts of embroiling South China Sea disputes.

Both Vietnam and Philippines have diplomatically protested against China to no avail for its repeated use of naval ships to escort its fishing boats in the Paracel and Spratly islands.   Both countries were alarmed recently when China sent 30 fishing boats deep into the Spratly archipelago in an attempt to reassert ist claims of the South China sea’s ownership, and furthermore, to intimidate ASEAN’s countries.

Vietnamese protesters have been fed up with the Vietnamese Communist Party for its timid role in protecting Vietnam’s territorial interests against China’s aggression, and their sentiment echoes Filipinos as well as Japanese  concerning China’s flexing its muscles in the disputed seas. [1] [2] (Peaceful demonstrations are sanctioned by the Filipino and Japanese governments since both countries are truly democratic republics while Vietnam is governed by the dictatorial communist party)

Vietnamese patriots held a third anti-China rally in spite of intimidation by the Vietnamese authorities

In the interview before the march against China, 81-year-old activist Mrs. Le Hien Duc stated that “nobody, including the government (the Vietnamese communist party), can stop people from voicing their frustration at China for acting aggressively against its neighboring countries, or from peacefully demonstrating in the streets”.  Those who try to stop Vietnamese citizens from expressing their opnions regarding China’s acts of thievery in South China Sea are considered traitors, and thusly, should be tried for treason.

There is no march against China in Saigon, Vietnam’s most-populated city due to Saigon’s local authorities usage of harsh measure to silence dissidence, including peaceful and non-violent protests against China.  Bui Minh Hang, a leading democratic activist in Vietnam, staged her demonstration against China using her home instead since she is not allowed to travel to Saigon or Hanoi to join up with other protesters.

As long as the Vietnamese government continues to use force and intimidation to suppress anti-China protesters throughout the country while kowtowing to China’s whims and demands, the likely chance of Sundays marches against China will continue.

Amnesty International
Reporters Without Borders
Human Rights Watch

Protests erupt in Vietnam as South China Sea spat continues

About 200 people staged on Sunday a protest in Hanoi, Vietnam against China – the third this month – over its territorial claims in the South China Sea, amid rising tensions.

Demonstrators shouted “down with China’s aggression!” and traffic around Hoan Kiem Lake in the city center was brought to a standstill.

They were prevented from getting close to the Chinese embassy in Hanoi by security forces and no arrests were made, the AP reported.

The Chinese embassy in Hanoi and the foreign ministry were not available for comment on Sunday.

Fishing boats lie at anchor in the waters at Meiji Reef of South China Sea on July 22, 2012. There are nearly a score of fishermen working regularly at a fish farm at Meiji Reef, where high-value fishes are fed for years. Photo: Xinhua

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a statement on Friday saying that the member countries had agreed on six principles on the South China Sea. These countries vowed that they would not use force to settle disputes and they would respect international laws.

In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Friday that China values its relationship with the ASEAN and is willing to work together with its members to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and “open to consultations with ASEAN on the conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.”

Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said Vietnam is expected to maintain its tough stance, but pressure on Vietnam has been building.

In March, the Vietnamese foreign ministry accused China of sovereignty violations in the South China Sea. In June it passed a Law of the Sea that claims sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha island groups.

The Vietnamese air force also dispatched fighter jets to “patrol” the Nansha island groups, provoking strong objections from China.

When Chinese oil giant, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) announced that they would open up nine oil fields on the South China Sea for bidding in June, Vietnam immediately claimed that CNOOC is drilling on Vietnamese territory.

Vietnamese citizens responded by staging a protest on July 1.

The Vietnamese government also announced that it would extend its oil exploitation contract with an Indian company in the South China Sea to maintain India’s presence in the region.

India, however, withdrew from some of the projects. Indian defense minister Arackaprambil Antony said on Saturday “issues between countries should be sorted out through dialogue, discussion and persuasion without any confrontation,” in reference to the matter, according to the Times of India.

Vietnam has been attempting to align itself with other countries to challenge China’s territorial claims over the South China Sea, hoping to further pressure China, observers say.

“Vietnam is trying to team up with India, the US and Japan on this issue. But that won’t work because these countries will prioritize their own interests,” said Zhao.

Vietnam is trying to earn international sympathy by portraying China as bullish, but most countries remain neutral in the matter, according to Zhao.

Meanwhile China is firm in stating its bottom line and is demonstrating that it will not back down in sovereignty issues, which will put pressure on Vietnam, he added.

In June, China announced the establishment of the city of Sansha in Hainan Province, which will cover the island groups of Xisha, Nansha and Zhongsha and their surrounding waters. Residents of Sansha elected 45 deputies to the local legislative body on Sunday.

The legislative body will then elect the procuratorate, judge and mayor of the city.

China’s central military authority has approved the formation and deployment of a military garrison in Sansha.

Sources with the People’s Liberation Army’s Guangzhou Military Command said that the Central Military Commission had authorized it to form a garrison command in the city of Sansha.

Responding to repeated noises from Vietnam, the foreign ministry spokesman has reiterated on many occasions China’s indisputable sovereignty over the area and urged Vietnam to abide by the consensus reached between the two countries last year, in relation to the resolution of disputes through peaceful negotiations.

Divisions over the territorial claims in the South China Sea prevented ASEAN from issuing its customary joint statement at the conclusion of a meeting in Phnom Penh on July 13, an unprecedented occurrence in the bloc’s 45-year history.

Countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines want to add a commitment that they will never use force in relation to the issue, a position China has rejected, reports say.

Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong told reporters Friday that the points were broadly similar to what was rejected by Vietnam and the Philippines last week, and blamed them for the earlier impasse, according to AFP.

Xuyang Jingjing

Vietnamese protest against ‘Chinese aggression’

Protesters in Hanoi demonstrating against Chinese claims to what Vietnam calls the East Sea. Photograph: Reuters

Hundreds of demonstrators have marched through the streets of Hanoi to protest, for the third time this month, against China‘s claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea.

Protesters stopped mid-morning traffic as they carried banners and Vietnamese flags, while shouting “The Spratly and Paracel Islands belong to Vietnam!” and “Down with Chinese aggression!”.

Marching through the capital’s tree-lined colonial avenues towards the Chinese embassy, demonstrators were turned away by police who had cordoned off the area. Similar rallies last year were broken up by police.

Sunday’s protest follows an increasingly tense dispute over what China calls the South China Sea and Vietnam terms the East Sea, an area with considerable deposits of both oil and gas, substantial international shipping routes and fishing rights to which a number of south-east Asian nations lay claim.

Beijing, which lays claim to the whole South China Sea, recently upset Hanoi after the government-backed China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) said it was seeking bids for oil exploration in what Hanoi deems Vietnamese waters, while Hanoi increased tensions last month by adopting a law claiming sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.

The debate marred regional talks last week in Phnom Penh, although the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), to which both China and Vietnam belong, agreed a “code of conduct” and plan to negotiate in September.

The demonstrators were also protesting against increasing human rights violations. Land grabs and accounts of police violence are subjects of growing anger among Vietnam’s 90 million population, a fact analysts say is terrifying Hanoi’s one-party authoritarian government.

“The last thing the government wants is uncontrolled demonstrations,” says Vietnam expert Carlyle Thayer of the University of New South Wales. “Demonstrators are peaceful … [but] they will be absolutely and utterly oppressed.”

While police escorted the protesters through the streets and did not appear to be making arrests, police have heavily cracked down on dissent in the past few weeks, and a number of influential activists and bloggers have been harassed and detained.

“Police came to my house last night and told me that if I attended [the demonstration] I would be arrested,” one prominent human rights activist told the Guardian by telephone on Sunday. “When I tried to leave this morning, a group of them forced me back into the house to stop me, and they are still outside.”

Official and plain-clothes officers circulated freely amongst Sunday’s few hundred-strong crowd, photographing demonstrators and eavesdropping on conversations. Those activists who were able to attend were followed by undercover agents who actively monitor their phone calls, emails and whereabouts.

“Everywhere I go, there they are,” one activist who has been repeatedly imprisoned for his democracy efforts told the Guardian. “I’m a little afraid but I have to continue. I can’t let them stop me from doing what I need to do.”

While anti-China rallies took place for about three months last year, authorities later cracked down and detained dozens of protesters after discussions started between China and Vietnam.

A Guardian article last year detailing increasing government encroachment on activists resulted in the detention of the reporter and the forced fleeing from Vietnam of two of his interviewees.

But demonstrators repeatedly point to an increasingly tech-savvy generation who expect to be better informed than ever, with a number of those at the rally filming and recording the demonstration, quickly uploading photos and videos after the protest had peacefully ended.

“We have the internet, we can communicate with each other now,” said one 25-year-old student protester. “They can’t stop us, however much they might want to.”

Esmer Golluoglu

Vietnam activists hold another anti-China rally

Hanoi and Beijing have a long-standing territorial dispute over the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea (AFP, Hoang Dinh Nam)

HANOI — About 200 protesters brought parts of central Hanoi to a brief halt on Sunday in the third rally this month against Beijing’s perceived territorial assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Demonstrators shouting “Down with China’s aggression!” brought traffic around Hoan Kiem Lake in the centre of the Vietnamese capital to a standstill as they marched towards the Chinese embassy.

They were prevented from getting close to the mission building by security forces — who broke up similar rallies last year — but no arrests were made, according to witnesses.

The protests come at a time of rising regional tensions over the South China Sea, which is believed to contain vast oil and gas deposits and is the subject of a web of competing claims between Beijing and its neighbours.

On Friday, Southeast Asian nations vowed to work towards a “code of conduct” in the disputed waters, a week after divisions over the territorial issues marred a regional ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh.

Vietnam and the Philippines have recently accused Beijing of increasingly aggressive behaviour in the South China Sea.

Hanoi and Beijing have a long-standing territorial dispute over the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which both countries claim, and frequently trade diplomatic barbs over oil exploration and fishing rights.

Relations between the pair have soured recently, with Vietnam attracting China’s ire last month after it adopted a law that places the Spratlys under Hanoi’s sovereignty.

China’s state-backed China National Offshore Oil Corp. also said it was seeking bids for exploration of oil blocks in disputed waters — a move slammed by Vietnam.

Protests are rare in authoritarian Vietnam.

Anti-China rallies last year were allowed to go ahead without interference initially, but authorities later clamped down, briefly detaining dozens of people after talks between Hanoi and Beijing.

China says it has sovereign rights to the whole South China Sea, which also has major international shipping routes. The sea is also subject to overlapping claims by Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.


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