Territory row sparks anti-China rallies in Vietnam

July 05, 2012
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HANOI, Vietnam – About a hundred people took to Hanoi's streets Sunday (July 1st) to protest Beijing's perceived aggression in the South China Sea, AFP reported.

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    Demonstrators outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi waved Vietnamese flags and shouted "Down with China!", watched closely by security forces. No arrests were made.

    Activists at another protest in southern Ho Chi Minh City were prevented from approaching the Chinese consulate, a witness said.

    China and Vietnam are locked in a territorial dispute over the South China Sea, and frequently trade diplomatic barbs over oil exploration, fishing rights and the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which both countries claim.

    Chinese state media on Sunday said the country had deployed four patrol ships to the Spratly Islands, after Vietnam last month adopted a law asserting Hanoi's sovereignty over the Spratlys.

    A subsequent move by China's state-backed China National Offshore Oil Corp. seeking bids for exploration of oil blocks in disputed waters was slammed by Vietnam.

    Vietnamese protesters took to the streets 11 times last year over the territorial tensions -- a rare occurrence in the country. Authorities allowed the first rallies to go ahead but clamped down on later gatherings, briefly detaining dozens of people.

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