Vietnam holds rare protests against China over sea disputes

By REUTERS
December 9, 2012 05:56

 
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HANOI - Vietnam held rare but brief protests against China in its two major cities on Sunday after Beijing demanded that Hanoi stop unilateral oil exploration in disputed waters and not harass Chinese fishing boats.

About 30 people gathered opposite Hanoi's opera house, raising banners and shouting in protest against China before marching towards the Chinese embassy as part of a planned demonstration that was announced on several blogs. Police moved in quickly, pushing the protesters onto a bus and taking them away.

In downtown Ho Chi Minh City, another small protest was also quelled quickly when security officials seized banners held by protesters and disbanded the crowd, a witness said.

China is in increasingly angry disputes with neighbors, including the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia over claims to parts of the potentially oil- and gas-rich South China Sea.

China lays claim to almost the whole of the sea, which is criss-crossed by crucial shipping lanes, and also has a separate dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.

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