World / Asia-Pacific

Anti-China protests aborted amid tightened security in Vietnam

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-05-19 11:28

Anti-China protests aborted amid tightened security in Vietnam

A man repairs broken windows at the office of a Taiwan company attacked during riots in Vietnam's Binh Duong Province on Friday. [Photo/Agencies]

HO CHI MINH CITY - On the day when nationwide anti-China protests had been expected to burst in Vietnam, local residents spent just another quiet weekend as usual but under tightened security both on the streets and on the Internet.

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Vietnamese rioters have rampaged into hundreds of foreign factories in Ha Tinh Province and three provinces near Ho Chi Minh City in the south since May 13 during violent protests. Related violence has left two Chinese killed and more than 100 injured.

The protests came after Vietnamese ships and personnel repeatedly harassed the normal operations by a Chinese oil company in undisputed waters in the South China Sea.

Vietnamese authorities have urged the people to protest in a peaceful way and said the government would not tolerate any more "illegal" activities and trouble-makers.

On Sunday, when a nationwide wave of anti-China protests had been supposed to take place, dozens of foreign tourists were outnumbered by all sorts of police officers at Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, a famous tourist attraction and landmark in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

A local young couple in wedding dresses were also seen with a photographer outside the 19th-century building shooting pictures. On the main streets, government workers were cruising in vehicles and using loudspeakers to urge citizens to ignore extremists' incitement and not to participate in illegal protests.

A man was blocked and his bag searched by security staff before police took him away in front of the People's Committee, or government, of the city's District One, where apparently the man attempted to demonstrate anti-China banners.

When a Xinhua team tried to record a video footage, security men showed up and prohibited them from doing so.

Vietnamese security authorities have reinforced police protection for the Chinese Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, which has been a major target of Vietnamese protesters. Some protestors even attempted to break in last week.

In addition to the routine deployment of two policemen at the consulate's front gate, more than 20 uniformed guards wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying rifles were stationed to defend two crossroads near the Chinese diplomatic mission throughout the day.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung sent three text messages via telecom networks to almost all mobile phone users in the country on Sunday, urging citizens not to participate in any protests without government permission.

To prevent people from using the Internet to organize protests or demonstrations, Vietnamese authorities shut down access to Facebook during Sunday's daytime. The social network is widely used on mobile phones among Vietnamese to organize social activities.

Xinhua learned from sources throughout the country that no large-scale demonstrations took place on Sunday.

In Binh Duong Province, where a factory of Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group was stormed by rioters on May 13, police arrested another seven people who participated in the deadly riots and were suspected of stealing from the factories.

The suspects said they were regretful for their behavior and wanted to return the stolen products to the factories, hoping that they could be forgiven.

In Dong Nai Province near Ho Chi Minh City, 29 suspects arrested for participating in violence against foreign factories last week were prosecuted. A total of 318 suspects have been arrested in the province.

Beijing has condemned the violence in Vietnam against foreign investors and companies, and stressed that Vietnam bears unshirkable responsibility for the violent attacks against Chinese companies and nationals.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has demanded that Vietnam take resolute and effective measures to stop all violence, ensure the safety of all Chinese nationals and companies, punish all perpetrators and compensate affected Chinese companies and nationals.

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