More than 1,000 people gathered outside of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi today to take part in one of the largest anti-China demonstrations to date, protesting a deep-water drilling rig recently dispatched by Beijing in contested waters.
The protestors held banners reading “China don’t steal our oil” and “Silence is cowardly”, according to AFP, in reference to Hanoi’s handling of the situation. Hundreds of police lined up to block protestors from approaching the embassy but allowed the demonstration to carry on uninterrupted.
“This is the largest anti-Chinese demonstration I have ever seen in Hanoi,” said war veteran Dang Quang Thang, 74.
“Our patience has limits. We are here to express the will of the Vietnamese people to defend our territory at all costs. We are ready to die to protect our nation,” he told AFP.
Tensions escalated in the South China Sea when China deployed the Haiyang Shiyou 981, a billion-dollar rig meant to drill for oils in waters claimed by both nations. China says the rig is legal and claims the zone it was placed in belongs to Beijing, and a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that it is operating “completely within the waters of China’s Paracel Islands” which the country has occupied since the 1970s.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, called the deployment a “violation of Vietnam’s sovereign rights” because the rig was placed in waters that Vietnam has sole rights to exploit for resources.
The two countries had signed an accord in 2011 to peacefully resolve disputes about the South China Sea, but China has been accused of going out of its way to humiliate the Vietnamese with its latest move.
[Images via Than Nien News]