Vietnam orders end to ‘illegal protests’

HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam’s prime minister ordered an end Saturday to all “illegal protests” in the country after a week of violent demonstrations against China’s deployment of an oil rig in a disputed section of the South China Sea.

Last weekend, Vietnam’s government took the unusual step of allowing anti-China street protests — a move widely seen as way for the authoritarian state to show its displeasure with Beijing for positioning the oil rig on May 1 in strategic waters claimed by both countries.

In a text message to millions of people on Saturday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said the Ministry of Public Security and provincial governments had been ordered to “conduct concerted and determined measures not to allow illegal protests that cause security and social order disturbances.”

All protests are technically illegal in Vietnam.

The message appears to represent a shift in government policy regarding the anti-China protests. On Thursday, Dung sent a text message calling for heightened patriotism.

Nationalist and dissident groups, which are also demanding basic democratic reforms that challenge Vietnam’s Communist Party, have called for large protests on Sunday in front of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam.

The public mood in Vietnam is currently anti-Beijing, and breaking up the rallies might reinforce dissident claims that the government is kowtowing to China. In the past, authorities have allowed small anti-China protests to take place for a limited period, and harassed journalists covering them.

The public unrest this past week was the most serious to hit Vietnam in years. Dozens of factories close to Ho Chi Minh City were trashed following peaceful anti-China protests by workers. In central Vietnam, a 1,000-strong mob stormed a steel mill, killing one Chinese worker and wounding hundreds more. Hundreds of Chinese and Taiwanese people have fled the country by land and air.

There has been no reported violence or major demonstrations since Thursday.

Earlier this month, Vietnam’s government sent a flotilla to confront Chinese vessels protecting the oil rig, setting off a tense standoff. The government also has whipped up patriotic fervor via state media, undoubtedly swelling the numbers of protesters, while also trying to rally international support for its cause. The streets protests last weekend were the largest in years in Vietnam.

The government has condemned the violence, which it said was carried out by “extremists.”

In a phone conversation Saturday with his Vietnamese counterpart, Chinese Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun urged Vietnam to protect Chinese companies and nationals, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website. Guo also demanded that Vietnam severely punish those involved in the violence.

In 2011, Chinese vessels cut a supply cable to a Vietnamese oil exploration vessel in the South China Sea, angering Vietnam’s government. Vietnam allowed protests for a while before gradually cracking down on them after they became a forum for anti-government activists.

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Most Read