Thursday, 16 August, 2018


Vietnam says will deal with 'extremists' behind protest clashes

Vietnam delays vote on economic bill Vietnam says will deal with 'extremists' behind protest clashes
Bennie Garza | 12 June, 2018, 22:21

The protests, by thousands of people in several cities, were fueled by concerns that a draft law to develop economic zones offering land leases of up to 99 years would be dominated by investors from China, a neighbor with which Vietnam has a rocky history.

The rare demonstrations on Sunday took place in several parts of the country in response to legislation on three special economic zones that would grant 99-year leases to companies.

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

More than 100 protesters were arrested and dozens of police injured at protests against the creation of new special economic zones in central Vietnam on Sunday, Reuters reported.

China's Embassy in Hanoi warned its citizens to be careful, referring to the protests as "illegal gatherings" which include some "anti-China content", the BBC reported.

Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, chairwoman of the Assembly, said the protesters might have misunderstood the nature of the bill.

In the capital Hanoi, police detained more than a dozen protesters who marched down a busy street, some carrying anti-Chinese banners including one that said: "No leasing land to China even for one day".

There also are ongoing rival claims between China and Vietnam over territory across the South China Sea.

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 bill was deferred by the National Assembly on Monday at the government's behest.

The National Assembly was due to pass the legislation for the economic zones later this week but made a decision to delay the vote until its next meeting in October.

Protests in the cities were quickly suppressed, but authorities faced much greater public anger in Binh Thuan, where demonstrators threw rocks, set vehicles alight, and briefly occupied the local government headquarters.

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 protests come at a time of rising tensions over the disputed South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by China.

As a result, our correspondent says, Vietnam's leaders must always tread a delicate line between maintaining relations with their powerful neighbour, and avoiding provoking anti-Chinese sentiment in a fiercely nationalist population.

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