Vietnam's government vowed on Tuesday to punish "extremists" it said had instigated rare clashes with police at the weekend when a nationwide protest over new economic zones for foreigners spiraled into chaos in one central province.
"The Chinese embassy in Vietnam is paying close attention to the relevant developments and reminds Chinese citizens in Vietnam to pay attention to security when traveling", the notice said.
Protesters in the southeast coastal province of Binh Thuan attacked the local People's Committee with rocks and Molotov cocktails, setting ablaze motorbikes late in the evening, according to local media.
Though the authorities often tolerate protests, rallies against China's perceived aggression and infringements upon Vietnamese sovereignty are a challenge for the government, which is keen to avoid angering a neighbor with growing military, political and economic clout.
The Vietnamese government plans to open three special economic zones (SEZs) where foreign investors will be given great incentives and can lease land for up to 99 years in the zones.
"People should stay calm, belief in the decisions of the party and the state, especially in the fact that the National Assembly is always listening to the people's opinions when discussing the bills", Ngan said. The protest ended around midnight after members of the Ministry of Public Security assisted police, who were unable to disperse the crowd with smoke bombs and fire hoses. The report said dozens of policemen were injured in the incident.
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Photos and videos shared on social media show protesters carried anti-Chinese banners or chanted slogans such as "No China" and "No leasing land to China even for one day".
Ho Chi Minh City police said Monday that workers of Taiwanese textile company Pouyuen had been instigated into striking work and protesting the bill on SEZs.
Vietnam said in May previous year it planned to open three special economic zones that offer investors greater incentives and fewer restrictions than available in the country at present.
The law would set regulations for the special economic zones of Van Don, Bac Van Phong and Phu Quoc.
The protests come at a time of rising tensions over the disputed South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by China.
China once colonised Vietnam, the two countries fought a border war less than 40 years ago, and Vietnam contests Chinese control of a number of islands in the South China Sea. The National Assembly is scheduled to vote on it on Tuesday.