News / Asia

Emotions Running High in Vietnam Over China Dispute

A plainclothes policeman walks past demonstrators during an anti-China protest in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, May 13, 2014.
A plainclothes policeman walks past demonstrators during an anti-China protest in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, May 13, 2014.
Marianne Brown
Tension is rising in Vietnam with protests reported nationwide amid the country's dispute with Beijing over a Chinese oil drilling platform deployed near the Paracel islands.

According to local newspapers in Hanoi, thousands of workers at Hong Kong and Taiwanese factories in South Vietnam were taking to the streets, calling for China to remove a giant state-run oil rig from Vietnamese waters.

A hotel at a popular beach town reportedly is refusing Chinese guests, and Vietnamese tourists are canceling trips to China.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people demonstrated outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, with similar protests taking place across the country. More protests are expected to take place this week.

Vietnam's state-controlled media usually only carry muted coverage of diplomatic relations with China. This week there has been extensive reporting, however, on the confrontation and the protests.

Growing dispute

Vietnam expert and former U.S. diplomat David Brown said initial reports of the oil rig incident were more restrained, but then quickly changed.

“This was from a guy at one of the mainstream papers who said they had been told that they could reprint anything they had got from foreigners. But they were supposed to be careful about what they wrote otherwise, that was the first day or so,” said Brown.

Vietnam’s Communist Party has long stressed the economic and political importance of what it calls the East Sea, an area believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves.

However, Block 143, where China's state-owned oil rig HD-981 was towed earlier this month, is not being developed. Professor Carl Thayer at the Australian Defense Force Academy, said there’s “a kind of consensus among oil industry people that it’s not the most promising.”

“Bloc 143 is not being developed. Vietnam has made little efforts to do so, so in other words they are just arguing to maintain their Exclusive Economic Zone. If you go to the next block, there are operations going on there. ExxonMobil are a couple of fields away,” said Thayer.

Some observers have speculated that the move was driven by the China National Offshore Oil Company, CNOOC, though Thayer disagrees.

“I’ve heard that the China National Offshore Oil Company, when asked to go there initially, argued back that no, it was too costly to operate over an extended period of time and it wasn’t a high priority for them. Then they were ordered to go in,” he said.

Thayer said the issue is about sovereignty, not economic gain.

Dominating ASEAN

This was the message repeated by the local Vietnamese media over the last week, which ties in with the government’s strategy to seek international support to counter China and avoid military engagement.

At a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Burma, also known as Myanmar, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued a statement saying the “extremely dangerous situation has been and is directly threatening peace, stability and maritime security and safety in the East Sea.”

Vietnam Major General Le Van Cuong, Former Chief of the Ministry of Public Security’s Strategy Institute said the prime minister is clearly calling for international support. He said previous responses of Vietnam have not lived up to the seriousness of the situation, but this time was different.

However, at China's foreign ministry this week, spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Monday that the South China Sea is not a problem between China and ASEAN nations. She said China has a consensus with ASEAN countries on insuring safety and stability in the sea.

In Vietnam, there are concerns tensions could continue to escalate. At a news conference in Hanoi, Cuong said many people worry about the imbalance of military forces between Vietnam and China. But he said Vietnam has history on its side.

He said he believes Vietnam has nothing to worry about. If the world isolates China, he asked, how can it survive?

He compared Vietnam’s economic weakness to countries like France, which Vietnam defeated in 1954, and the United States in the 1970s.

You May Like

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Through Sports, Austria Tries to Give Migrants Traction

With 85,000 people expected to claim asylum in Austria this year, its government has made integration through joint physical activities a key objective More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Aloha
May 15, 2014 4:53 PM
I hope Viet Cong government and Chinese commie government go to war with each other! Commies are idiots no matter what country they reside in. It is time to rid the cancer of Asian communism from the face of the earth.

by: Cherry
May 15, 2014 1:51 PM
Hey, even if the Chinese government acts poor, why blame ordinary Chinese enterprises . Why did they become the target of attack!? It is totally unreasonable! Those who got hurt and murdered are all normal people!

by: Phong from: Viet Nam
May 15, 2014 12:40 PM
Vietnamese are peace-loving people. Regardless of power, resource imbalance; regardless of which government and/or which political party, once invaded we will fight to our last man/woman/child standing, until the entire Vietnamese race is wiped off the face of the earth.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
May 15, 2014 5:58 PM
Oh, I don't know burning down building is peace loving behavior. And attack Korean and Japanese companies is how to protect your country?
You ppl must suffer a lot from the agent orange, do you. Lol

by: Chris Carmichael from: United States
May 15, 2014 9:24 AM
I would think that the Chinese military would be eager for a rematch after the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979. In that attempt at invasion, the Chinese lost around 50,000 casualties, and massive numbers of tanks, APC's, and artillery pieces. The Vietnamese kicked some serious Chinese butt. The presumption, however, is that the result would be the same in the Chinese push them too far again.

After all, the Vietnamese have defeated the Chinese militarily on six occasions, and the French and Americans once each.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
May 15, 2014 6:02 PM
China attacked you to stop you from annex Cambodia, and China made it! Now Cambodia and Laos are both China's best friends! They are the reason why AESEN could never reach an agreement, lol
In Response

by: Ken from: Canada
May 15, 2014 12:58 PM
@chris Carmichael,you better read more history of sino-Vietnam war,the Vietnamese did not defeated the Chinese for that 2months of invasion acttacked.The Chinese just came to do the damages and teaching the Vietnamese a lesson of paying respected to the support that Chinese giving them in 1954 French-Vietnam war and the 70 America war.

by: Bruceben9 from: USA
May 15, 2014 8:58 AM
China. The world's new bully. China's bullying has been more local in the past. Now they are branching out with the decline of USA respect.

by: Anonymous from: phillippines
May 14, 2014 6:49 PM
The act ...of vietnam is good they are fighting for their rights...china is a greedy..the decision of the phillippines to have a military base in manila is very.....very good...because only u.s can stop the tension.
In Response

by: Anonymous
May 15, 2014 8:43 AM
Ironic that Vietnam wanted the assistance of China 45 years ago.

by: Mr. Haung from: USA
May 14, 2014 3:53 PM
China will take over Vietnam and the Vietnamese people will not happy with it, but when Vietnam wants to take over Cambodia and the Cambodian people will not happy with it either, this is what they called what go around and come around

by: dragon slayer from: vietnam
May 14, 2014 7:50 AM
Uighurs are attacking Chinese rats in west china for stealing their territory. It's not surprising to see more of these extremist group from neighboring countries like Vietnam doing the same damage to china. China has no one else to blame but themselves for this. By stealing other nations territories and resources they have produced desperate men with nothing to lose. Asia will be the new middle east with china the center of attack. How can you stop someone extremist who is willing to die and take 10000 Chinese rats with him?
In Response

by: Hoang from: Canada
May 14, 2014 3:18 PM
To Jonathan,
Vietnamese workers riot their own factories, lose their jobs for the loyalty and love of their country. Selfish Chinese never will do that but run.
In Response

by: jonathan huang from: canada
May 14, 2014 1:18 PM
easy my friend. your corrupt commie government already started to arrest all those thugs in the street.
your weak evil government only wants money. the oil from SCS became money in those officials pockets. you poor vietnamese ppl got nothing, you are still poor and work as cheap labors for the chinese companies. your evil government got all the money again. do you really think this government would seriously go against China? give me a break, they dont want miss any minute of making money.
your biggest enemy is your own commie government, not China. wake up and stop being brainwashed.

by: Clayton Bigsby from: USA
May 13, 2014 10:43 PM
Chinese asserts that its territorial claims in the South China Sea are premised on its 'inherent' and 'indisputable' exercise of a historic sovereignty. But China claims clearly lacks international legal basis and is tantamount to upset international laws, including the UNCLOS-1982. The claim has earned widespread international criticism and has been a major obstacle to dispute settlement efforts in the region."

The Chinese are not to be trusted Vietnam..Soon they will encroach in your territories from the north. You need to remind them of 1979.
In Response

by: jonathan huang from: canada
May 14, 2014 1:13 PM
@clayton, did america ratify the UNCLOS? if not then you better sh ut up.

by: mike from: canada
May 13, 2014 10:42 PM
China is big country, but has a very bad government,
In Response

by: mark75 from: VN
May 14, 2014 9:10 AM
mike, VN is a small country and VN has a very bad government too.
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs