HANOI — Police bundled dozens of people onto buses Sunday morning, including a mother and her young child, after about 150 people gathered in Hanoi's city center to protest Chinese actions in the South China Sea.
At around 8.30 in the morning a group of more than 100 people met on the banks of one of Hanoi’s most popular tourist attractions, Hoan Kiem Lake. Some wore tee-shirts with a map of the Paracel and Spratly islands, territories claimed by both Vietnam and China. Others waved posters saying “Shame on you China bully.”
One banner carried a photograph of university student Nguyen Phuong Uyen, who was jailed last month for handing out leaflets urging people to take to the streets to protest a perceived expansion into Vietnam by China.
One protester, who only had time to give her name as Hanh before a policeman snatched the poster she was carrying and pushed her away, said people had gathered there because of recent events in the South China Sea.
She said China had violated her country’s territory.
After just a few minutes, police grabbed some of the main protesters and pushed them into a nearby bus, including one woman carrying a small infant.
One protester, Nguyen Anh Dung, said at that point about 15 people had been detained.
He said the bus was on its way to Loc Ha detention center. He said he was not afraid and would continue to protest. Shortly afterwards, another bus pulled up alongside the protesters and Dung was dragged inside.
The protest comes nearly a week after Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Chinese boats of colliding with Vietnamese fishing vessels near the disputed Paracel Islands.
China called the accusations “totally untrue,” saying the Vietnamese fishing boat entered Chinese waters illegally.
At the center of the dispute are the uninhabited Paracel and Spratly islands, which are believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves. China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all claim territories in the South China Sea.
Protests are becoming increasingly common in Vietnam.
Just moments before the anti-China protest began a small group of elderly women walked around the lake carrying placards protesting land grabs. Around eight of them were also taken away on buses to the detention center.