Vietnam police nab protesters in anti-China rally

January 19, 2017 10:07 am

A protester shouts anti-China slogans during a rally marking the 42nd anniversary of the 1974 naval battle between China and then-South Vietnamese troops over the Paracel Islands, in Hanoi, January 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

At least a dozen people have been arrested in during a rally to protest the 1974 Chinese takeover of a disputed island chain in the South China Sea.
Some 100 people gathered in the center of the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, on Thursday to mark the 43th anniversary of the Chinese takeover of the Paracel Islands, for which overlapping claims are made by both China and Vietnam, triggering a diplomatic flashpoint between the pair for over the past four decades.
Angry activists chanted “Down with the invaders!” while carrying banners against the “age-old enemy” in the vicinity of Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake. Plainclothes police, however, took banners away and hauled at least a dozen people into a nearby vehicle in a bid to break up the crowd.
Police also ordered reporters to leave the scene and turn off their cameras.
The activists were calling on the government to adopt a tougher stance toward Beijing over the contested islands, which are called Xisha Islands in China and Hoàng Sa in Vietnam.
“I think Vietnam must be determined toward China… to get back Hoang Sa Islands,” said one of the activists.
Although Hanoi contests the Chinese control of the islands, it frequently disperses anti-China protest rallies in an attempt not to evoke the wrath of the Asian powerhouse.
In early 1974, the then-Republic of Vietnam’s navy commenced a military offensive against the Chinese army vessels to expel them from the vicinity of the islands, which resulted in a war known as the Battle of the Paracel Islands.
China won the battle and established its de facto control over the archipelago, opening a chapter of a longstanding territorial dispute with Vietnam in the South China Sea.
Back in 2014, China transferred an oil rig into the contested territory, triggering deadly riots in Vietnam.
China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, which is also partially contested by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
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