Vietnam detains anti-China activists over South China Sea dispute | News | DW | 17.07.2016
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Vietnam detains anti-China activists over South China Sea dispute

Vietnam has detained dozens of activists at a rally protesting China's refusal to abide by an international tribunal's ruling. Vietnam and China have been locked in a territorial dispute over the South China Sea.

At least 30 activists were swiftly bundled onto waiting buses and into cars by security forces Sunday after they gathered to hold a protest near Hanoi's Hoan Kiem lake, a common spot for demonstrations.

Some of the protesters chanted "Down with China invasion!" as they were led away to detention. The rally had been organized by the No-U group in Hanoi, which opposes China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The UN tribunal ruled that China violated international maritime law, specifically the Philippines' maritime rights, by building up artificial islands that destroyed coral reefs and by disrupting fishing and oil exploration. Vietnam is also one of the claimants in the disputed waters.

Beijing defiant

But China boycotted the tribunal hearings, saying the court had no jurisdiction, and has reacted furiously, vowing to ignore the ruling and arguing it misinterprets international law.

Chinese soldiers on the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea

Chinese soldiers on the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea

Beijing lays claim to virtually all of the South China Sea, putting it at odds with neighbors the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Anti-Chinese sentiment runs deep in communist Vietnam but the country's authoritarian government represses expressions of public anger, fearful that allowing such protests might embolden criticism of communist governance in general.

In 2014, at least three Chinese nationals were killed when rioting broke out in Vietnam after Beijing sent an oil rig into contested waters (photo).

jar/jm (AFP, AP)

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