China Evacuates 3,000 Nationals From Vietnam Amid Tension

China has evacuated more than 3,000 of its nationals from Vietnam after a wave of anti-China unrest following Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in contested waters.

The announcement on Sunday came after Vietnamese civil society groups on Saturday called for fresh demonstrations against China following riots earlier in the week which left two Chinese workers dead and more than 100 injured.

Vietnamese authorities, which have occasionally allowed protests to vent anger at the country’s giant neighbour, warned they would “resolutely” prevent any further outbursts.

More than 3,000 Chinese nationals had been evacuated from Vietnam as of Saturday afternoon, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported early on Sunday.

“They returned to China with the assistance of (the) Chinese Embassy to Vietnam,” it said, citing China’s Foreign Ministry.

The Chinese government is also arranging for a chartered plane and vessel to evacuate the staff of China 19th Metallurgical Corporation, a contractor of one of the plants badly hit by the recent violence, Xinhua added.

Earlier Saturday Beijing advised its nationals against travelling to Vietnam, which has over the past week seen its worst anti-China unrest in decades.

Beijing’s positioning of an oil rig in waters also claimed by Vietnam in the South China Sea has ignited long-simmering enmity between the two communist neighbours, which have fought territorial skirmishes in past decades.

Worker demonstrations spread to 22 of Vietnam’s 63 provinces in the past week, according to the Vietnamese government, with enraged mobs torching foreign-owned factories.

“Recently, there was an explosion of violence in South Vietnam targeting foreign companies, provoking injuries and death of Chinese citizens and damaging companies’ properties,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement in Chinese on its website Saturday.

“The Foreign Ministry advises Chinese nationals temporarily not to travel to Vietnam. (It also advises) Chinese citizens and structures in Vietnam to increase their risk-awareness, to strengthen their security prevention measures, and to avoid leaving (their premises).”

Hong Kong also updated its travel advisory Saturday, warning its residents to avoid “non-essential travel” to Vietnam.

Earlier on Saturday, Xinhua reported that security chief Guo Shengkun had spoken to his Vietnamese counterpart and urged the authorities there to quell the violence. Xinhua also said commerce minister Gao Hucheng had called on officials to “bring relevant issues under control”. [AFP]