Commentary: Anti-China rallies, which were held on Sunday in front of Chinese embassy in Hanoi and Chinese General Consulate in Saigon, drew more than a few thousand protesters each. This time is slightly different from the previous ones in the past as there were a small crowd of pro-government and pro-communist protesters so that the state media can report the anti-China and the images of government supporters.
The real crowd of activists and patriots drew larger number of people despite the authorities’ intimidation. Some notorious bloggers or activists were temporarily put under house arrests and not allowed to join the demonstrations. These crowds attracted the people of all walks of life and all ages from toddlers to elders.
The slogans were more critical than the pro-communist for hired crowds:
China don’t steal our oil
Silence is cowardly
Freedom for Patriots
Down With China
Boycott the Chinese-Vietnamese Friendship Motto
China Back Off
Nation Above All Else
“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.
According to AFP, hundreds of plain clothes and uniformed police set up barricades to prevent protesters approaching the Chinese Embassy compound but made no move to break up the rowdy demonstration, even though the communist regime normally tightly controls any public expression of discontent.
Patriots were more critical of the Vietnamese government’s handling of the dispute and used the opportunity to call for changes to the one-party state.
“We want to send a message to the Vietnamese government also — they are responsible for this situation,” demonstrator Tran Xuan Bach told AFP.