Protesters march against China in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday. Reuters
HANOI—Vietnam deployed security forces and quelled renewed protests against China on Sunday amid escalating tensions between the two nations after a territorial dispute sparked anti-Chinese rioting across the southeast Asian country.
The Chinese government chartered planes and vessels as it evacuated more than 3,000 of its nationals in Vietnam, China's Xinhua news agency reported Sunday, following riots in recent days thatleft two Chinese dead and more than 100 injured. Among those evacuated were 16 critically injured Chinese as well as staff from the China 19th Metallurgical Corp. who were building an iron and steel complex in Vietnam's Ha Tinh Province, Xinhua said.
Mobs looted and burned their way last week through several of the industrial parks where Chinese and other foreign manufacturers have set up over the past dozen years to take advantage of Vietnam's low-cost, skilled workforce. The rioting was initially a response to China's deployment of an oil rig in South China Sea waters also claimed by Vietnam. But the violence also indiscriminately hit businesses from Taiwan, Malaysia and elsewhere whose owners had no relation to the dispute.
Vietnamese authorities, stung by the violence and destruction to foreign-owned factories, have signaled in recent days that they don't want to risk a repeat. Mobile carriers sent repeated texts to Vietnamese subscribers, passing along a message from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung asking people to not participate in illegal protests.
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On Sunday in Ho Chi Minh City, police carried away some protesters among the hundreds who had gathered at the city's Notre Dame cathedral. Several appeared to have been detained. There was no immediate statement from police on arrests or injuries.
In Hanoi, hundreds of uniformed policemen and others in plainclothes dispersed a group of about 100 people gathering at a park near China's embassy, as police with loudspeakers ordered people to leave the area. A perimeter of metal barriers was erected about 500 meters from the embassy."We are on our mission, and we ask you to leave the area," a policeman said on a loudspeaker. No arrests were made. Elsewhere in the city, large numbers of security officials and policemen were deployed to parks, public spaces and intersections.
"The police are just doing their job, and I'm here to show my patriotism and to protest against the deployment of the Chinese oil rig," said a protester who didn't want to be named.
The violence has added to tensions between China and Vietnam that were already high from the standoff near the Paracel Islands, where China stationed a large oil rig two weeks ago. Having traded recriminations over the oil rig, the governments engaged in strained exchanges over the riots and the evacuations.
China's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the government had issued an advisory warning against travel to Vietnam and was suspending some diplomatic contacts. The violence and loss of life and property "have undermined the atmosphere and conditions for exchanges and cooperation between China and Vietnam," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a statement.
In Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday, protesters clapped and cheered, displaying newspapers with stories about the South China Sea tensions. Uniformed and plainclothes police with earpieces recorded protesters with video cameras as the demonstrators chanted "Long live Vietnam!" and "The Paracels and Spratlys belong to Vietnam," referring to two disputed island chains.
One man waved a sign that referred to the former South Vietnam, the U.S.'s ally in the Vietnam War, and suggested that if the U.S. joined with Vietnam today, China could be defeated. Police ripped the sign away and removed him from the area. A truckload of security personnel arrived to break up the gathering. Police with loudspeakers told people not to take part in illegal protests and to go home. Security personnel appeared to outnumber the protesters.
The rally got off to a late start, as protesters were confronted with a much larger police presence than in recent days. Last week, authorities allowed larger groups to march throughout Ho Chi Minh City for hours. But after the riots at several industrial parks later in the week, the government pledged to maintain order in a bid to reassure foreign investors.
Sunday's protesters weren't allowed near China's consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. Most foreign-owned factories stayed closed over the weekend.
A protester marched in an anti-China protest in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday. Reuters
In talks in Hanoi on Saturday to arrange the evacuations, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao demanded Vietnam do more to protect Chinese citizens and their property and arrest and punish those responsible for the violence, according to a statement released by the foreign ministry. "The Chinese side demands the Vietnamese side handle well the work of caring for the dead and treating the injured," the statement quoted Mr. Liu as saying. He added: Vietnam "must ensure the violence does not happen again."
That message was reiterated in a phone call between China's and Vietnam's police chiefs. "China's Ministry of Public Security is very much shocked and indignant at the violence," Xinhua quoted China's Guo Shengkun as telling Vietnam's Tran Dai Quang on Saturday. Mr. Guo said Vietnam bears what Xinhua called an "unshirkable responsibility" for the violence.
Vietnam said that the riots, which left about 140 people injured, were triggered and incited by "bad individuals" and that about 300 people had been arrested.
The Vietnamese economic and cultural representative office in Taiwan issued a statement Sunday pledging compensation for damages and suggested that one option would be to reduce or waive property or business taxes. Affected companies could receive priority loans or have outstanding debts forgiven, it said.
"The Vietnamese government will do the best we can to help companies resume normal production as soon as possible," the statement said.