Vietnam breaks up anti-China protests over the South China Sea
HANOI (AP) - Vietnamese police broke up anti-China protests in two cities on Sunday and made about 20 arrests in the first such demonstrations since tensions between the communist neighbours flared anew over rival claims to the oil and gas-rich South China Sea.
Any sign of popular anger in tightly controlled Vietnam causes unease among the leadership, but anti-Chinese sentiment is especially sensitive. The country has long-standing ideological and economic ties with its giant neighbour, but many of those criticising China are also the ones calling for political, religious and social freedoms at home.
Police initially allowed about 200 protesters to march from Hanoi's iconic Opera House through the streets, but after 30 minutes ordered them to disperse. When some continued, they pushed about 20 of them into a large bus which then drove quickly from the scene.
As foreign tourists and Sunday morning strollers looked on, protesters shouted "Down with China" and carried banners bearing the slogan "China's military expansion threatens world peace and security." Using loudspeakers, authorities urged them to disperse and tried to reassure them.