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Vietnam Detains Protestors Opposing China Islands Claim

Vietnam detained about 20 protesters who marched through downtown Hanoi to oppose China’s claims to disputed territories in the South China Sea.

About 100 demonstrators gathered outside Hanoi’s Opera House today, where they were watched over by dozens of uniformed and plainclothes police. Police shoved protestors who were holding banners and leading chants into a city-operated bus after they refused to obey orders to disperse.

Le Dung, who was among those detained, said demonstrators were being taken to Loc Ha detention center outside of Hanoi. Nguyen Duc Chung, director of Hanoi police, said he wasn’t able to comment when contacted on his mobile phone.

The protest comes after China said last week that the actions of its fishing boats in a disputed part of the South China Sea were “completely justified,” following a diplomatic complaint from Vietnam that Chinese fishing vessels had intentionally blocked one of its seismic survey ships.

Demonstrators unfurled home-made signs and banners that proclaimed Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel islands and chanted “Oppose China!”

“Vietnam needs to take a stronger stance against China to protect our borders and sea,” said Le Thien Nhan, one of the protestors. “We want to show the Vietnamese people that we are not afraid to speak out to protect the country and they shouldn’t be afraid either.”

Vietnam lodged a protest with China last week after it said two Chinese fishing boats obstructed a seismic survey ship, the Binh Minh 2, in waters within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone on Nov. 30. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said Dec. 6 that the actions of the Chinese ships were “completely justified” and that they were carrying out fishing activities.

A meeting of foreign vice-ministers from Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei to discuss South China Sea disputes won’t take place as planned on Dec. 12, Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said Dec. 7.

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