Vietnamese Protest China’s Expansion in South China Sea

A group of people gather in a park in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi for the fourth consecutive Sunday to protest against what they see as China’s “invasive action” in the South China Sea.

The crowd was told to move along by the police, and walked peacefully toward the centre of Hanoi, waving flags. The protesters sang patriotic songs and chanted slogans like “The Spratlys and Paracels belong to Vietnam” – a reference to disputed islands in the South China Sea.

[Quoc Dat, Protester]:

“I can see that Hanoians are very concerned at a time like this, a time when China is continuously and aggressively expanding in the South China sea, a time when the international (community) urges China to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, signed in 1982. This protest has truthfully reflected the mind and will of the Vietnamese people.”

Another protester called on China to keep the peace.

[Nguyen Thi Thu Lanh, Protester]:
“The message we are trying to get out today is just like all the other times: We urge China to keep peace on the South China sea and stay true to the agreements they had signed with Vietnam and other neighbouring countries.”

China and Vietnam pledged on Sunday to resolve their maritime dispute through peaceful negotiations.
Some see this as a sign of easing tension over rival claims in the South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas. Relations between the old rivals have been strained over the past month because of a flare-up in a long-standing disagreement over sovereignty in the South China Sea.

China and Vietnam have traded accusations over what each sees as intrusions into its waters. The South China sea is crossed by major shipping lanes and thought to hold large deposits of oil and gas.

The latest spell of tension began last month when Hanoi said Chinese boats had harassed a Vietnamese oil exploration ship. According to Beijing, Vietnamese oil and gas exploration undermines its rights in the South China Sea. The two sides have conducted independent naval exercises but analysts say neither has an interest in pushing the dispute to the brink of violence.

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