UK & World News

  • 18 May 2014, 15:35

Evacuations After Violent Anti-China Protests

Beijing has evacuated more than 3,000 of its citizens from Vietnam amid violent anti-China protests triggered by a flare-up over disputed land.

Chartered flights and ships have been used to get the nationals home, while 16 critically injured people were evacuated separately on a medical flight.

Vietnam's communist rulers have vowed to clamp down on the violence, and several arrests have been made in the capital Hanoi and commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City.

The protests were triggered after Chinese state energy firm CNOOC deployed dozens of ships two weeks ago and towed a $1bn (590m) oil rig to a location 150 miles off Vietnam's coast in an area both counties claim.

That part of the South China Sea bed is believed to contain billions of barrels of oil.

US officials in Washington have described China's action as provocative, and said Beijing's fraught relations with neighbours could potentially strain ties with the US.

Protests involving hundreds of people were allowed to go ahead in Vietnamese cities a week ago, a rare move in a state that usually suppresses them.

However, the protests quickly escalated into looting, arson and destruction.

Fighting between Vietnamese and Chinese workers broke out in central Ha Tinh province on Wednesday killing two people and wounding 140, the government said.

However, a doctor and an eyewitness said they saw between 13 and 21 dead bodies, mostly Chinese, on the night of the unrest.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry updated its travel advice for Vietnam on Sunday, telling Chinese citizens "not to go for the time being".

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