HANOI, May 15 (Xinhua)–The Vietnamese government sent mixed signals Thursday after mobs killed at least two Chinese nationals and more than 100 others in anti-China violence that has spread throughout Vietnam.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh argued at a press briefing that the what he called manifestation of patriotism and determination to “protect the national sovereignty” was a “legitimate and natural” action.
However, it should be conducted in accordance with law and friendship between peoples worldwide, Binh said in touching on the matter lightly.
Vietnam would use all measures suitable to “defend sovereignty” with the development of the situation in the South China Sea, the spokesman threatened, referring to the waters in the vicinity of China’s Xisha Islands.
The anti-China looting and arson in Vietnam came after Vietnamese ships and personnel repeatedly harassed the normal operations of a Chinese oil company in waters only 17 nautical miles (27 kilometers) from China’s Xisha Islands and about 150 nautical miles (241 kilometers) from Vietnam in the South China Sea.
From May 3 to May 7, Vietnam dispatched 36 vessels, which rammed Chinese vessels 171 times.
A Chinese enterprise was carrying out normal oil drilling activities in China’s Xisha Islands and its contiguous zone, activities which had started 10 years ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
However, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry on May 7 said Vietnam “cannot accept China’s illegal drilling rig HD-981” and “it is an infringement of Vietnam’s sovereignty.”
With distorted information published by Vietnam’s state-run media, the largest anti-China demonstrations in 10 years have been held throughout Vietnam since May 9, and the bloody attacks on Chinese nationals and companies have spread from southern Vietnam Tuesday to central and northern Vietnam Thursday.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Thursday ordered the Ministry of Public Security and other ministries, sectors and localities nationwide to take firm measures to prevent and punish those who incited others to disturb law and social order.
According to the directive on the Vietnamese government’s website, the prime minister requested local authorities to protect businesses and their production, especially foreign ones, and to urgently help and support the enterprises to resume business and production soon.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang on Wednesday accused the Vietnamese vessels which had rammed Chinese ships of violating China’s sovereignty and jurisdiction. He urged the Vietnamese side to calm down, respect China’s sovereignty and jurisdiction and not to attempt to further complicate and aggravate the situation.