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Protests erupt in Vietnam as S.China Sea spat continues

(Global Times)

08:37, July 23, 2012

About 200 people staged on Sunday a protest in Hanoi, Vietnam against China - the third this month - over its territorial claims in the South China Sea, amid rising tensions.

Demonstrators shouted "down with China's aggression!" and traffic around Hoan Kiem Lake in the city center was brought to a standstill.

They were prevented from getting close to the Chinese embassy in Hanoi by security forces and no arrests were made, the AP reported.

The Chinese embassy in Hanoi and the foreign ministry were not available for comment on Sunday.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a statement on Friday saying that the member countries had agreed on six principles on the South China Sea. These countries vowed that they would not use force to settle disputes and they would respect international laws.

In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Friday that China values its relationship with the ASEAN and is willing to work together with its members to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and "open to consultations with ASEAN on the conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea."

Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said Vietnam is expected to maintain its tough stance, but pressure on Vietnam has been building.

In March, the Vietnamese foreign ministry accused China of sovereignty violations in the South China Sea. In June it passed a Law of the Sea that claims sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha island groups.

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