1) Brave protesters marched on the streets of Hanoi and Saigon against China
On 07/01/2012, hundreds of people marched in Hanoi to protest China’s latest move inviting foreign firms to bid on oil exploration in nine lots off the coast of Vietnam.
The march also was to show the people’s support of the Law of Sea recently passed by Vietnam’s National Assembly—the law clearly declared Vietnam’s sovereignty claims of the Spratly (Truong Sa) and Paracel (Hoang Sa) islands in the East Sea.
Similarly, on the same day, many Saigonese also took to the streets of Ho chi Minh City chanting anti-China slogans.
There was no reported arrests/detainees made in the marches—a different story than the protests more than a year ago where many were detained for expressing their angers toward China bullying Vietnam ships off the coasts of Vietnam.
2) What’s different now?
A year ago…many arrests were made during the protests in Saigon and Hanoi. Policemen used force to break off demonstrations.
Now, besides a few patriotic bloggers were prevented to participate in the protests, people were allowed to march.
Perhaps, Vietnam is ready to make the disputes in East Sea international.
First move was to pass the Law of Sea making its rightful claims of the 2 islands, Spratly and Paracel on 6/21/2012. China’s immediate protest against the law was not accepted well with Vietnam officials.
On 6/26/2012: China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) invited bids from foreign countries for oil explorations in the 9 blocks in Vietnam’s territory of the coast. The action caused immediate denouncements from Vietnamese government—and from many Vietnamese in the country and from around the world—and from U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman and many international scholars. Professor Carlyle Thayer from the Australian Defense Force Academy said oil and gas blocks in these 9 blocks in fact belong to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. Senator Lieberman also agreed that CNOOC’s invitation for bids in an area that is internationally recognized as Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone is an action to provoke Vietnam in retaliation to its recent passed Law of Sea.
On 7/2/2012 (Vietnam’s time zone), China deployed 4 patrol ships to the disputed area. The ships will be patrolling the Huayang reef of the Spratly island.
Of course, preceding these events was the visit to Hanoi by the U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.