News / Asia

Violence Subsides in Vietnam After Anti-China Rioting

  • While riot police stand by, workers board a Chinese ship at Vung Ang port, Ha Tinh province, Vietnam, May 19, 2014. 
  • Hundreds of Chinese workers leave Vietnam on ships chartered by their government after deadly unrest broke out last week, Vung Ang port, Ha Tinh province, Vietnam , May 19, 2014.
  • Anti-Vietnam protesters throw eggs at a Chinese frigate placed on top of a Vietnamese flag during a protest defending China's territorial claim and condemning Vietnam's anti-Chinese protests, in Hong Kong, May 19, 2014.
  • Anti-Vietnam protesters hold posters with slogans and a map of the South China Sea during a protest defending China's territorial claim and condemning Vietnam's anti-Chinese protests, in Hong Kong, May 19, 2014.
  • A police officer uses a speaker to order pedestrians, including journalists, to leave a closed area near the Chinese embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, May 18, 2014. 
  • Vietnamese authorities forcibly break up a small protest against China after anti-Chinese rampages in two Vietnamese cities turned violent, Hanoi, Vietnam, May 18, 2014. 

  • Vietnamese expatriates shout in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati to protest the recent moves by China to construct an oil rig near the Vietnamese-claimed Paracels, May 16, 2014.
  • Police face off with demonstrators dressed as green sea turtles protesting recent poaching by China during a rally in front of the Chinese consulate at the financial district of Makati city, Philippines, May 16, 2014.
  • Protesters, wearing green sea turtle costumes, picket the Chinese consulate at the financial district of Makati city, Philippines, May 16, 2014.
  • Philippine activists and Vietnamese nationals display placards and chant anti-China slogans as they march outside the Chinese consulate in Manila's Makati financial district, May 16, 2014.
Philippine Protests Against China
VOA News
The situation in Vietnam has calmed down following several days of violent protests against China's decision to put an oil rig in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

In a text message sent Friday to millions of cell phone users, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung warned protesters to act within the law while staging demonstrations. The message quotes him as saying, "bad elements should not be allowed to instigate extremist actions that harm the interests and image of the country."

Rioting across the country this week left at least one Chinese worker dead and 149 others injured. Dozens of factories were targeted in the rampage, including many that belong to Taiwanese and Korean businesses. State run media reports say hundreds have been arrested in connection with the violence.

A White House spokesman Friday called China's decision to put an oil rig in the disputed waters "provocative." Jay Carney said China's action undermines stability in the region.

Chinese and Vietnamese ships have been locked in a standoff since China deployed an oil rig last month in a part of the South China Sea that Vietnam claims is within its exclusive economic zone. The two sides have attacked each other with water cannons, raising fears of an armed military clash.

State-run media in China and Vietnam say the foreign ministers of both countries talked about the situation by phone late Thursday. Beijing says Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi condemned the recent violence while Hanoi says Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh demanded the oil rig be removed.

Ernest Bower, Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told VOA's Vietnamese service that he thinks Hanoi had no recourse but to publicize its dispute with China.

"Most of China's neighbors have been trying to keep this aggressive push by China under wraps and not report everything in the press. But I think Vietnam does feel that at this point they've got to share with the world what the ramifications of China's actions are," said Bower.

Joshua Kurlantzick of Council on Foreign Relations said he thinks Vietnam made a calculated decision to allow protests, but that the situation quickly spun out of control.

“I think it is true that they’re probably feeling increasingly helpless in the dispute with China. [But] I doubt that Vietnamese government wanted this to happen because any unrest makes them uncomfortable," said Kurlantzick.

Bower agreed, saying the government in Hanoi understands that the violence plays into China's objectives.

"I do not believe the Vietnamese government in any way had a role in promoting those protests. In fact, I think the protests worry them because the Vietnamese government understands that part of the Chinese tactic [of] pulling the oil rig Haiyan 981 onto the Vietnamese continental shelf was to provoke the Vietnamese into making mistakes," said Bower.

Tuong Vu, a professor East and Southeast Asian studies at the University of Oregon, said is not clear if the protests and Vietnamese public opinion will help or hurt Hanoi in negotiations with Beijing.

“They used these popular protests to bolster their position in their talks with Chinese leaders, and try to convince them to take the oil rig out of Vietnam’s waters. We need to know how effective such an action might be before we can say whether Vietnam is naive or not. They’re probably naive because these protests has gone beyond what is permitted, causing Chinese economic damage and death," said Tuong.

But Kurlantzick said sentiment among Vietnam's citizens will not have any impact on China's decisions. “Public indignation in Vietnam is not going to make an impact on China. First of all, I don’t think China is scaling back their operations, what would make them scale back operations is probably not public opinion of Vietnam. I don’t know what would, but there are other things that I could think of that would be higher on the list."  

During a trip to Asia last month, U.S. President Barack Obama reassured U.S. allies in the region that Washington stands by its commitments to help defend them. China says the message is encouraging Vietnam and others to confront Beijing.

Meanwhile, More than 100 Filipinos and Vietnamese residents in the Philippines staged a joint protest in Manila Friday against China's incursions into territories claimed by their countries. Manila is protesting Chinese land reclamation on a reef that it says is Philippine territory.  

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.

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Comment Sorting
by: moguro fukuzo from: japan
May 18, 2014 2:34 PM
The real intention of China is to keep a nuclear-powered submarine deep below the South China Sea, in order to get an upper hand in diplomatic negotiation wit the United States. If Vietnam or the Philippines loses its territory, the whole South China Sea will become Poland!

by: Zak from: Canada
May 17, 2014 11:45 PM
The World must understand that none of this would happen if China only respected the international laws. Vietnam did not ask for China to trespass. Why do all these analyst with PhD around the world beat around the bushes and blame the protest and riots on the Vietnamese. It's easy to avoid the truth when it isn't at your doorstep. I'm sure if someone trespasses on their property they won't blame their actions what ever that may be to remove the trespasser.

by: Sam Walton
May 17, 2014 7:26 AM
Watch out for new world leader! China has ignored the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

USA send a warning message to China:
Vietnam/China: Chinese Oil Rig Operations Near the Paracel Islands
Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC

May 7, 2014
China’s decision to introduce an oil rig accompanied by numerous government vessels for the first time in waters disputed with Vietnam is provocative and raises tensions. This unilateral action appears to be part of a broader pattern of Chinese behavior to advance its claims over disputed territory in a manner that undermines peace and stability in the region.
We are also very concerned about dangerous conduct and intimidation by vessels operating in this area. We call on all parties to conduct themselves in a safe and professional manner, preserve freedom of navigation, exercise restraint, and address competing sovereignty claims peacefully and in accordance with international law.
Sovereignty over the Paracel Islands is disputed; this incident is occurring in waters claimed by Vietnam and China near those islands. These events highlight the need for claimants to clarify their claims in accordance with international law, and to reach agreement on appropriate behavior and activities in disputed areas.

“The United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation, open
access to Asia’s maritime commons and respect for international law in the
South China Sea,” Mrs. Clinton said.

However, with new carrier and modernized Army and Navy China has ignored USA
warning by continue build up military

USA may have to use the economy card to punish China by limiting or stop investment in manufacturing in China and bring jobs home. Let face it, most of products from Walmart, Caterpillar, Nike, Apple, Gap, and others are made in China just names few...while we have millions of American receiving unemployment benefits???

Are we pay (invest) to China so that we would lost our manufacturing jobs and indirectly promoting the Chinese to be our new world leader?

Shameful? ignorance? or naive?

by: remie from: canada
May 17, 2014 6:40 AM
Yeah you should get out. Its better for Vietnam because when chineses invest they take more. Why is there so many chinese workers in vietnam? Because they use vietcong perks and flood factories with chinamen . So money doesnt really stay in Vietnamese pocket.
I read an article saying china and vietnam trade 50 billion but yet 3.5 billion benefits vietnam and you can guess where the rest goes,GREEDY china 46.5 billion

by: Faye Faye
May 16, 2014 11:54 PM
All of the Chinese investors, including from Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, as long as they are ethnic Chinese, should immediately move their investments out of those countries, such as Vietnam, the Philippines etc, that have had really bad track records of running the massive anti Chinese movements.

History has proven that anti Chinese movements repeats again and again in the same group of countries. These countries do not deserve Chinese investments.

Ethnic Chinese people should invest in those countries that have long term good relationships with China, such as Cambodia, Burma etc, so their investments can enjoy the long term stability.
In Response

by: Seato
May 17, 2014 11:00 AM
@Faye: Your comment is biased and has obviously been influenced by the recent riots in Vietnam.Vietnam and China share the same culture.No where else in the world the Chinese people would feel more at home and happy than in Vietnam,where everyone get on well without any discrimination at all. The recent attacks at Chinese-owned businessed were one-ofg isolated incidents,which were stirred up by some elements.Early investigations indicated China secret setvice's involvement,aimed to discredit Vietnam.Vietnam,has always been considered as one of the most politically stable countries for investment which has a very young and technically workforce.To be fair,China must be held responsible for all the recent upheavals in East Asia with all illegal and unreasonable territorial vlaims. The deliberate location of the oil drilling platform HD981 on Vietnam's territorial waters, is a provocative and calculated act,without showing any respect for international laws,and a violation of Vietnam's sovereignty and territorial integrity.America,being the world's number 1 superpower,the defender of freedom and democracy,should take immediate,drastic and proactive actions,to prevent China from taking the law into its own hands,reshaping and remapping the world the way it pleases.You can not let China dictate to you and treat you like a third world country. The best way to secure maritime free navigation in South China Sea is for America ti maintain the 7th fleet in the area to deter China from resorting to mischief
In Response

by: Lee from: Viet nam
May 17, 2014 3:29 AM
@Faye Japan, Korea also should remove their investment from China? It is not the way to solve problem.
In Response

by: NoBulling from: Truong Sa
May 17, 2014 2:57 AM
The mob leaders are Chinese. They only after Taiwanese, Korea, and Japan facilities. This is very old tricks.
In Response

by: du ma from: usa
May 17, 2014 2:45 AM
China rise to power by making knockoff stuffs...let stop buying knock off and buy US make. The china is fake tiger!
In Response

by: Ingo meuws from: China
May 17, 2014 12:31 AM
Putting your investment anywhere will produce the same result because Chinese companies were greedy and don't have respect for human and natural resources,look what happen to Chinese investment in Africa,there is a lot of exploitation going on.

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