China on Saturday advised its nationals not to travel to Vietnam after Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in the disputed waters of the South China Sea sparked the worst anti-China unrest in decades.
The travel warning came after Vietnamese civil society groups called for more anti-China protests in several cities on Saturday.
But the Vietnamese authorities – who have sometimes allowed the protests to express their anger against the country’s neighboring giant – have warned that they will “resolutely” prevent any further explosion.
China’s positioning of an oil rig in waters also claimed by Vietnam has sparked a long-standing feud between two communist neighbors, who have fought territorial skirmishes in recent decades, with protests erupting in the big cities in recent days and enraged crowds torching factories owned by foreigners.
“Recently, there has been an explosion of violence in South Vietnam targeting foreign companies, causing injuries and death to Chinese citizens and damaging company property,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday. Chinese on its website.
“The Foreign Ministry temporarily advises Chinese nationals not to travel to Vietnam. (It also advises) Chinese citizens and structures in Vietnam to increase their awareness of the risks, strengthen their preventive security and safety measures. avoid leaving (their premises). “
Hong Kong also increased its travel advisory on Saturday, warning its residents to avoid “non-essential travel” to Vietnam.
Earlier on Saturday, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that security chief Guo Shengkun had spoken with his Vietnamese counterpart and urged authorities to crack down on the violence. Xinhua also said that Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng called on the authorities to “bring the relevant issues under control.”
Call for further peaceful protests
An alliance of 20 active Vietnamese NGOs has called for new protests in the capital Hanoi, the southern economic center of Ho Chi Minh City and other areas against China’s “aggressive actions” in the South China Sea.
However, he urged participants to remain peaceful after the chaos on Tuesday and Wednesday.
âThese violent actions created a bad image of the patriotic demonstrations and of the Vietnamese people; therefore, they must be stopped, âa statement released on social media Friday evening said.
The alliance largely includes anti-government organizations and is believed to have played a role in the turmoil of recent protests.
In a text message sent by the government to Vietnamese cell phone users on Saturday, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said authorities across the country were ordered to “implement measures to resolutely prevent illegal protests that could cause social and security unrest “.
China’s deployment of the giant platform is seen in Hanoi as a provocative assertion of Beijing’s highly controversial South China Sea claims, and has been criticized by Washington as exacerbating territorial tensions.
There have been repeated skirmishes near the controversial platform in recent days between Chinese and Vietnamese ships, including collisions and the use of water cannons.
Violent attacks on Chinese personnel at factories with foreign capital in Vietnam made matters worse, with China accusing the Vietnamese government of playing a role in the unrest.
Beijing, which refused to move on the oil rig, said two Chinese nationals were killed and more than 100 injured over the past week.
The attacks on foreign companies – which included Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean companies – appear to have scared the Vietnamese authorities, who rely heavily on foreign investment for economic growth.
But, while condemning China’s maritime actions, the government warned of further protests and pledged that foreign investment would be protected.
The showdown on the oil rig is the latest to raise alarm bells among China’s Southeast Asian neighbors, who are complaining about Beijing’s growing maritime intimidation.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, which holds significant offshore energy reserves.