China warns citizens amid Vietnam protests

Lester Mason
June 12, 2018

It is believed that a particular provision in the draft law on SEZs that would allow foreign investors to lease land for 99 years was the primary triggering factor for the protests.

Protesters denounced a draft bill that would grant 99-year leases in economic zones to investors, sparking fears it would give those from China influence over the country.

Vietnamese police detained more than a dozen people in the capital, Hanoi, and over 100 in Binh Thuan province, in south-central Vietnam, after protesters clashed with police and stormed a government office.

Footage of the unrest was aired on the state TV channel with a red cross drawn across it, indicating the authorities' disapproval.

Although the proposed legislation does not identify any country, many in Vietnam fear that these economic zones could be dominated by Chinese firms.

China, in a notice posted on its Hanoi embassy website, warned its citizens about travel in Vietnam after the demonstrations, which it called "illegal gatherings", included "anti-China content".

Photos and videos shared on social media show protesters carried anti-Chinese banners or chanted slogans such as "No China" and "No leasing land to China even for one day".

It was originally scheduled to be passed this week, but the government said over the weekend that the law which was created to give a "boost to development and institutional experiments" to the regions would be delayed to allow more research.

Nguyen Chi Tuyen, a Hanoi-based dissident blogger with 42,500 Facebook followers, said he rarely saw such public interest in the National Assembly, a legislature that usually acts as a rubber stamp for the Communist Party's Central Committee. The report said dozens of policemen were injured in the incident.

A local police officer in Tuy Phong District in Binh Thuan province said traffic on Highway 1 through the area was moving early Monday after it was blocked by the protesters for more than 10 hours.

"The bill is created to give a strong boost to the development of three special administrative and economic units, including Van Don in Quang Ninh province, Bac Van Phong in Khanh Hoa province and Phu Quoc in Kien Giang province, and room for institutional experiments", the government said in a statement.

China once colonised Vietnam, the two countries fought a border war less than 40 years ago, and Vietnam contests Chinese control of a number of islands in the South China Sea.

The National Assembly voted Monday to delay the law passage until the next session in October.

Demonstrators are also objecting to a cyber security bill, scheduled for a vote on 12 June.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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