News / Asia

Hundreds in Vietnam Protest Chinese Oil Rig

Around 500 people gather in a park in central Hanoi to protest China's deployment of an oil rig in contested waters in the South China Sea, May 11, 2014. (Marianne Brown/VOA)
Around 500 people gather in a park in central Hanoi to protest China's deployment of an oil rig in contested waters in the South China Sea, May 11, 2014. (Marianne Brown/VOA)
Marianne Brown
Hundreds of people across Vietnam took part in protests Sunday morning days after Vietnamese and Chinese vessels were reported sparring near a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Hundreds of people across Vietnam took part in anti-China demonstrations Sunday to protest China’s deployment of an oil rig near the Paracel islands, which both countries claim.

In a highly unusual move, the protests were covered in state-run media. Such protests are usually strictly controlled by police and participants are often prevented from attending.

In Hanoi around 500 people gathered in a park opposite the Chinese embassy - the biggest anti-China protest to take place here for many years.

Some banners read “China back off from Vietnamese waters,” and “the Paracel and Spratly islands belong to Vietnam”. One poster, which was perhaps telling of the mood read: “We entirely trust the Party, the government and the People’s Army.”

Earlier this week Vietnamese and Chinese vessels clashed near a Chinese state-owned oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea. Vietnam accused the Chinese ships of repeatedly ramming the Vietnamese ships and using water cannon, injuring six crewmen. Beijing said Vietnam continues to send ships to the area, threatening Chinese personnel.

One protester, Thanh, said she believes many people were worried about how the situation might escalate.

"If the war really happens between Vietnam and China it will be very bad for the people. My family live in Cao Bang, and before in 1979 the war happened between China. All houses were destroyed. We live really close to the China border so we are really afraid about this," she said.

Although the road to the Chinese embassy building itself was blocked by police, the crowd had an uninterrupted view of the gates. Several regular protest participants said it was the first time they had been allowed to protest so close to the Chinese embassy.

However, not everyone was taking their freedom to protest for granted.

Huu Ngoc Lam is a regular participant.  He said before he joined the gathering, he told his wife to take his motorbike home if he was detained by police.

He said even though he was nearly 70 years old, he was a patriot and was not scared of the police, eliciting applause from the crowd.

The confrontation over the islands, which Chinese forces seized from then South Vietnam in 1974, has raised fears of growing tensions between the two countries.

During a visit to Hanoi Thursday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel urged both sides to "refrain from unilateral actions”.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a statement Saturday ahead of Sunday’s ASEAN summit expressing concern and urging restraint by all parties.

Beijing claims nearly all of the South China Sea, which contains key shipping lanes and is believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.

Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei have competing claims to different areas of the sea, as does Taiwan.

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by: Scoopy from: Vietnam
May 11, 2014 2:04 PM
We do love chinese people, but Government of China they are so greedy and aggressive, they use this way to threaten neighbours, infringing Vietnam EEZ, and also guide Chinese eyes out of their country while many bad things happen inside china, also trying to stop Chinese Human Rights activists before memorial of Tiananmen on date 04 of June
In Response

by: Hah
May 13, 2014 11:40 AM
yes, they learned well, they learned all these bad habits from communist china.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
May 11, 2014 5:51 PM
Clearly it's the communist viet government is lying to its ppl and the world. It's trying to distract its ppl from the bad economy.

by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
May 11, 2014 12:29 PM
I have a relationship to China and Viet Nam. I served with US Forces in Viet Nam in 1972 and have a good bond for the Viet Namese. I gave advice on China's economy and security in 1977 to a person appearing to be part of Mao's family in Toronto at the Chelsea Inn Hotel. I have just written to the China Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, to suggest to China that it pursue a legal, peaceful and compromising strategy on territorial issues in Asia. Time will tell on the outcome.

by: Negishabi from: Canada
May 11, 2014 11:43 AM
Vietnam has already set up oil rigs and get tons and tons oil and gas from disputed waters in South China Seas, never care about Chinese protesting. Does Vietnamese know this truth? China just want to cooperate with Vietnam for exploring oil and gas together, but Vietnam doesn't want that and just extract oil and gas from disputed waters even until now. China just begin setting up oil rigs and the the oil rig is only tens of miles from sansha city of China and more than 100 miles from Vietnam. Vietnamese protest China? It is so funny. Go check how many oil and gas Vietnam already extracted from disputed waters in South China Seas, it is huge! If Vietnam want China to stop, Vietnam should stop extracting oil as well, so China and Vietnam can be back to table for talking. This may be the only way to handle this issue.
In Response

by: My from: Saigon
May 13, 2014 12:01 PM
To Negishabi: before giving any comments, pls collect information from all sources, listening to both sides, not only 1 side. Be a wise speaker ! if Vietnam violates international treaty / rules on sea , why don't China sue Vietnam at international court but using its millitary power toward Vietnam now ? it's no way that China dares to do it the right way because China government has no strong evidences to prove what-so-called their territories. Hoang Sa - Truong Sa belongs to Vietnam and we won't give up them to China even we would shed our bloods here. We love peace and not want any wars but terrority is spiritual, we would do whatever to protect these islands
In Response

by: SEATO
May 11, 2014 5:41 PM
You talked like a typical brainwashed Chinese who knows nothing about history or facts, apart from all the distorted informations stuffed into your hollow head by your tyrannical government.China first made a claim for about 80% of the South China Sea to the United Nation in May 2009,based on the so-called historical sovereignty.What they meant was, the South China Sea was once under Chinese administration,and so they now have a case to claim it back.It is just loads of rubbish.China has never been a sea-faring nation,and China's southern most border line stretched as far as Hainan island,as proven by all old European,Chinese and Vietnamese maps,including the one Chancellor Merkel offered Mr Xi Jinping on his recent visit to Germany.For your information,the whole of Southern China and Northern Vietnam used to belong to the NanYue kingdom,Nam Viet in Vietnamese,or Viet nam,just the same thing.Southern Chinese are of Vietnamese origin,even though they have now been sinicised. Look it up for yourself.China has in its entirely history,never controlled the South China sea.They just made a false claim,and they want to make their neighbours acknowledge by the use and the threaten use of force. That's why China refused to attend the UN court of the sea when they were sued by the Philippines for snatching the Scarborough shoal from them 2 years ago,becasue China knows they have no evidence to prove their claim.Japan has once ruled over Korea,Manchuria and Taiwan.If Japan made a historical over these areas,would you Chinese like it? Obviously no.The reason Vietnam and the Philippines refused to co-explore for resources with China in their waters because they are their own waters,acknowledged and guaranteed by the UNCLOS 1982,of which China is a signatory.China,for territorial ambitions and lust for resources,has resorted to threats and coercion, to make the world think that there are disputes in these waters,to force those countries share resources with them.China robbed the Paracel islands from Vietnam in 1974,a historical fact,look it up.They would not even discuss the issue with Vietnam,let alone co-exploring for oil.Then why should Vietnam co-explore for oil with China in Vietnam's waters.That's why China had to use force to make it happen.Get your facts right before making any stupid comment.China is now attacking Vietnamese ships in Vietnamese waters.They,however distorted the facts,and turned around and accused the Vietnamese doing it to them.Vietnam,a small nation,after so many wars,just want to be left alone to get on with their lives and rebuild a better future,would not even dare to offend a powerful China,let alone attack it.No matter what China claims,the whole world now know China is an aggressor,who is disrupting peace,stability and prosperity in the region because of its embarkation on a war of expansion without any regards for reasons,international laws and humanity

by: Tien from: China
May 11, 2014 9:24 AM
I like China country. I love the poor Chinese people. But, believe it or not, NEVER believe China's Officials. NEVER!!!

In Response

by: Tien from: USA
May 12, 2014 4:39 PM
I am also Tien but I am a Vietnamese. China is taking advantage of its economic growth and money to BULLY other countries. WHY is it that the ENTIRE SOUTH SEA be called South China Sea???? It doesn't belong to China. It's TOO wide and far to be considered China Sea.

As for China's Officials. I AGREE WITH YOU. DO NOT TRUST THEM!!!

by: JOHN from: VN
May 11, 2014 8:41 AM
Attack the oil rig and sink it. .BUDDHISM TEACHES PEOPLE READY TO DIE FOR THE COUNTRY BECAUSE OF NATIONAL SECURITY AND SOVEREIGNTY 
In Response

by: Hu°ng Le from: CA, USA.
May 12, 2014 7:09 PM
John, before you say something like that you have to based on fact. Don't cause damage to Buddhism.
In Response

by: Kim Phuong from: US
May 12, 2014 10:02 AM
Hah, hah,,, I have never heard of this buddhism teaching; but ok, we are all ready to die sooner or later for this and that, or for nothing.

by: Cuong Nguyen from: Vietnam
May 11, 2014 7:26 AM
Vietnam had been through war for many many years. So no one wants that terrible thing will happen again. China government must bring HD-918 back to their country
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