Vietnamese protest amid fear of Chinese investment in special economic zones

Vietnam Protesters Clash With Police Over New Economic Zones (PHOTO, VIDEO)

China's Embassy in Hanoi warned its citizens to be careful, referring to the protests as "illegal gatherings" which include some "anti-China content", the BBC reported.

State media reported that police in the south central province of Binh Thuan on Sunday night used tear gas and water cannons but failed to prevent protesters from entering a government building they later vandalized. It added, "The Chinese embassy in Vietnam is closely monitoring the trend".

Molotov cocktails and rocks were lobbed at the People's Committee Headquarters in south-eastern Binh Thuan province, where police said 102 people were held.

As a result, our correspondent says, Vietnam's leaders must always tread a delicate line between maintaining relations with their powerful neighbour, and avoiding provoking anti-Chinese sentiment in a fiercely nationalist population.

The draft law does not identify potential foreign investors that can lease land for up to 99 years in the zones, but the protesters fear it will be dominated by neighbouring China.

Online newspaper VnExpress quoted chairwoman of the assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan as telling legislators that some people misunderstood the nature of the law and thus carried out extremist activities. The National Assembly is set to vote on the bill on June 12. The protest ended around midnight after members of the Ministry of Public Security assisted police, who were unable to disperse the crowd with smoke bombs and fire hoses. The police-run Ministry of Public Security said "extremists" had injured dozens of policemen, damaged government offices and torched police vehicles.

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Activists said several protesters were also detained in the country's economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City.

"The bill is created to give a strong boost to the development of three special administrative and economic units, including Van Don in Quang Ninh province, Bac Van Phong in Khanh Hoa province and Phu Quoc in Kien Giang province, and room for institutional experiments", the government said in a statement.

There also are ongoing rival claims between China and Vietnam over territory across the South China Sea. The two communist countries fought a brief war in 1979.

Roughly $5 trillion worth of global trade passes through the South China Sea annually, and a number of countries claim disputed islands there.

The United States and Canada urged Vietnam on Friday to delay the vote on the proposed cybersecurity law.

The decision was made after the National Assembly and the government took into account many aspects of the issue which caught interests and gathered a lot of ideas from local legislators, people of all walks of life and voters nationwide.

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