Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

China warns citizens in Vietnam after protests fuel anti-Chinese sentiment

China warns citizens in Vietnam after protests fuel anti-Chinese sentiment

Protests went ahead in a number of locations including Hanoi, Binh Thuan and Ho Chi Minh City despite a concession from the communist government, which said Saturday that it would ask parliament to delay approving the law until the end of the year. Authorities accused the protesters of throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at the People's Committee Headquarters in southeastern Binh Thuan province.

"Over the past few days, some anti-state organizations have taken advantage of people's sentiments for the nation, spreading calls on social networks, inciting people to protest and even attack authorized forces, causing public disorder and creating an image of an "unstable" Vietnam", the government-owned Vietnam News reported Monday.

Although the proposed legislation does not identify any country, many in Vietnam fear that these economic zones could be dominated by Chinese firms.

Vietnam's National Assembly, the country's top legislature, agreed on Monday not to adopt the draft Law on Special Administrative and Economic Units of Van Don, Bac Van Phong, and Phu Quoc at its ongoing fifth session.

China's embassy in Hanoi has warned its citizens to be careful, referring to the protests as "illegal gatherings" that had included some "anti-China content".

About 40-50 protesters gathered at Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake holding placards reading "Protest against the draft law on special economic zones" and "Protest against leasing land to China". State media outlets said dozens of police officers were injured.

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"People should stay calm, believe in the decisions of the party and the state, especially in the fact that the National Assembly is always listening to the people's opinions when discussing the bills", Ngan said. It added, "The Chinese embassy in Vietnam is closely monitoring the trend".

Vietnam has seen protests over the maritime disputes in recent years, including in 2014, when Chinese citizens fled the country in their thousands after violence targeting foreign-owned businesses.

Vietnam is among several countries in the region that have claims in the South China Sea, through which an estimated US$5 trillion in trade passes each year.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last week told local media the 99-year term would be decreased, although he did not specify the details.

It was originally scheduled to be passed this week, but the government said over the weekend that the law which was created to give a "boost to development and institutional experiments" to the regions would be delayed to allow more research.

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