Hanoi: Hundreds of demonstrators gathered
on Sunday in Vietnam`s capital in a rare protest demanding that
China stay out of their waters following a spat involving a
Vietnamese oil-drilling research boat in the South China Sea.
The group of mostly young people demonstrated in front
of the Chinese Embassy, many wearing Vietnamese flag T-shirts
and carrying signs that read, "Stop Chinese invasion of
Vietnam`s islands." After about 30 minutes, they were
dispersed by police. They then marched through the streets
toward central Hanoi`s landmark Hoan Kiem Lake, singing the
national anthem and shouting anti-Chinese messages.
The protests follow a May 26 incident when a Chinese
patrol boat allegedly destroyed the cable on a state-owned
PetroVietnam boat conducting seismic research some 120
nautical miles off Vietnam`s central coast.
Clashes are common in disputed areas of the sea
claimed by both countries, but Hanoi has responded feverishly
to this incident, saying it occurred well within the 200
nautical miles guaranteed to Vietnam as an exclusive economic
zone by international law.
China has accused Vietnam of undermining its interests
and rights within its waters.
"It is neither a disputed area nor is it an area
managed by China," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong
Nga said recently in response to China`s statement about the
incident. "China has deliberately misled the public into
thinking that it is a disputed area."