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Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

FILE - Tourists in Ho Chi Minh City look at a Soviet-made tank.
FILE - Tourists in Ho Chi Minh City look at a Soviet-made tank.

Officials in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s financial hub in the south, are discussing plans to impose heavy fines on Chinese tourists who “disrespect Vietnam’s culture and history” and are issuing Mandarin-language dos and don'ts targeting their northern neighbors.

The move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang, a South China Sea coastal retreat that's popular among Chinese visitors. The clip only fueled nationalistic sentiments, which have been surging since The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against Beijing’s territorial claims in the disputed maritime region, to which Hanoi is a claimant.

Talking to VOA’s Vietnamese service, Mai Chi, a Ho Chi Minh-based tour guide for Chinese travelers, said intense Vietnamese reaction to the clip seems “politically motivated.”

“In the past, when Vietnam and China retained friendly relations, issues related to Chinese tourists were not reported much," Chi said. "But now, due to the political things going on, they were propagandized.”

Despite the apparent tensions, Chi says recent guided tours have yet to see any overtly hostile attitudes toward her clients. On Thursday, however, Vietnam's VnExpress International reported that Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism asked local police to expel 66 Chinese nationals, including tour guides, working illegally in the travel industry in the central province of Khanh Hoa.

Cross-border dialogue

The Vietnamese National Administration of Tourism early this month reportedly asked its Chinese counterpart to deal strictly with tourists who misbehave or break local laws when visiting Vietnam.

Around 1.8 million Chinese tourists visited the Southeast Asian country last year. This year, the number is expected to hit a record 2 million visitors.

In a separate development, some Da Nang residents have expressed concern over suspected jamming of radio transmissions, but Vietnam’s broadcast watchdog blamed technical errors for the issue.

Recent social media chatter about broadcast interference in at least two coastal provinces have alleged that China is jamming signals. A local official in Ngu Hanh Son district was quoted by Vietnamese media as saying that authorities suspect the interference comes from the sea.

Huynh Quang Trung, a Ngu Hanh Son district official, told VOA's Vietnamese service on Thursday that the issue has been resolved.

“The radio system has been replaced, and there is no longer any problem,” he said.

Officials said an initial investigation found that there had not been deliberate jamming, and instead placed blame on a “technical issue.”

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Vietnamese service.