New Delhi: Following the recent blocking of border ports by Chinese authorities and stranding of Vietnamese trucks carrying perishable agricultural goods, social media in Vietnam is full of anti-China comments. Recently there was a video (Jan 3) on Twitter account of one Lee Ann Quann. (https://twitter.com/AnnQuann/status/14779717776705085491) showing Chinese soldiers throwing stones on Vietnamese construction workers and hurling abuses on the unarmed workers in Ha Giang province.
A popular blog (https://www.nguoi-viet-com/viet-nam/linh-trung-quoc-nem-da- vao-cong-nhan-viet-nam-o-ha-giang/) in vernacular language, which is otherwise banned by Vietnamese government for its anti-China posts, posted (Jan 4) an article quoting the tweet and recalling 1979 China-Vietnam War.
Google translation of the article is placed below:
Author Lee Ann Quann on January 3, 2022, released a video clip of a group of Chinese soldiers hurling stones towards Vietnam, where China has built a barbed wire fence to separate the border. The Vietnamese side did not see any soldiers, but only a few workers carrying stones, being transported by trucks, to work as embankments against erosion at the riverbank in northern Ha Qiang province bordering China. “The Chinese soldiers shouted and threw stones at the Vietnamese digging along the Vietnam-China border. Civilian workers guarded the riverbanks on the Vietnamese side to prevent erosion when the river water was tight,” author Lee Ann Quann wrote a caption on the video clip.
British journalist Bill Hayton commented: “Obviously something is happening along the border between Vietnam and China. (Thousands) of trucks got stuck (at the border) and now this is happening to the world…”. Hayton also commented: “I guess the Chinese side is rehearsing for confrontation with shields”.
Last year, China built a solid barbed wire fence with security cameras along the border with many countries, including Vietnam and Myanmar. Last February, there was also news that China was building an airport for military helicopters and the location of anti-aircraft missiles was only about 20 km from the border with Vietnam in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region.
The Vietnamese side did not act to cause any damage in terms of security or economy. The Chinese side is even trying to encroach on territory to the North, after signing an agreement on demarcation of the land border in late 1999.
While the leaders of the two countries always say nice things when they meet, Ha Giang province used to have battles with China and people are clueless about the relationship when Chinese soldiers act like this towards the Vietnamese side.
Ha Giang province experienced bloody battles in Vi Xuyen, Dong Van, Lung Cu, when by order of Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese troops overran the country “to teach Vietnam lessons” in February 1979. After that, there were still sporadic gunfights, but it was not completely quiet until the signing of a land border agreement.
January 2, 2022, the website of the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam reported: “The delegation of the Ministry of Public Security led by Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Son, Deputy Minister of Public Security came to offer flowers and incense to commemorate heroic martyrs at Vi Xuyen National Martyrs Cemetery in Ha Giang province.” According to the source, this “is the resting place of 1,850 martyrs and a mass grave of martyrs, of which more than 1,600 martyrs from all over the country have heroically fought and died in the war to protect the northern border.
Over the past month, more than 6,000 trucks, most of them carrying Vietnamese agricultural products were stuck at the border gates of Lang Son and Quang Ninh provinces because of China’s strict anti-COVID-19 measures along with a four-week Tet holiday notice. The Communist Party of Vietnam has continuously negotiated with China to help solve it before damaged agricultural products have to be destroyed, but to no avail.
Anti-China sentiments are currently running very high as till date thousands of truck carrying fruits is still stranded at various land ports. In addition as per a report in VN Express of January 9, Chinese side business partners have informed Vietnamese exporters not to send shipments by sea until a new decision is made. This embargo like situation on entry of Vietnamese fruit products is causing serious economic losses to the lowest strata of Vietnamese society as these exports are the major source of revenue for many of the local villages. The trucks which have returned from border areas are selling their products at a throw away prices.
Especially coming before the Lunar new year or Tet festival, this action by China is criticised strongly. The Facebook page of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi is also filled with negative comments. There is a strong feeling amongst the scholars here that the banning of imports is not just related to covid-19, there is some other strategic motive of China. The government, however, is staying away from directly criticising or blaming China. They are making efforts for some kind of rapprochement with the Chinese to restart the imports.