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Vietnam detains anti-China activists

Scores of activists were detained in Vietnam’s capital yesterday as they gathered to protest against China after it rejected a recent international ruling that dismissed its claims to much of the South China Sea.

Anti-Chinese sentiment runs deep in communist Vietnam but the country’s authoritarian rulers move swiftly to tamp down expressions of public anger, fearful that allowing such protests might embolden criticism of their rule. Activists had used social media to call for protests in Hanoi yesterday in the wake of this week’s ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague which found there was no legal basis for Beijing’s claims to vast swathes of the South China Sea.

The case was brought by the Philippines but the ruling has been a boon for other regional countries like Vietnam who also have competing claims to the strategic sea. Authorities in the capital Hanoi were ready for protests yesterday. Plainclothes security forces were out in force, blanketing much of the city center and keeping a close eye on any crowds that might be gathering, an AFP reporter on the scene said. (AFP)

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