Vietnam stifles new demonstrations as China evacuates 3,000 in wake of oil rig fiasco
By Dan Martin ,AFP
May 19, 2014, 12:02 am TWN
HANOI -- Vietnamese security forces stifled fresh protests Sunday over China's plans to drill for oil in contested waters, as Beijing sent five ships to help evacuate its nationals from Vietnam following deadly mass riots last week.
China's state media said more than 3,000 of its citizens had already returned home in recent days after the territorial tensions and riots sent relations between the frequently quarrelsome communist neighbors spiraling to their lowest point in decades.
Enraged mobs torched or otherwise damaged hundreds of foreign-owned businesses last week, killing two Chinese nationals and injuring about 140.
While China's deployment of the giant rig is seen in Vietnam as a grave provocation, the ferocious public reaction appeared to catch authorities by surprise.
Fearing an impact on vital foreign investment, Vietnamese authorities took no chances Sunday as activist groups tried to stage further demonstrations, though they insisted they would be peaceful.
Hundreds of security personnel swarmed over streets leading to the sprawling Chinese embassy in Hanoi, restricting access to the neighborhood and other suspected protest sites.
Blogs by civil society groups involved in the protest call said activists were detained in several areas around the country or prevented from leaving their homes.