Commentary: Vietnam must ensure safety of Chinese citizens in the country [Xinhua]

by Xinhua Writer Ming Jinwei

HANOI, May 15 (Xinhua) — Relations between China and Vietnam have largely enjoyed steady progress in recent years.

During Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Hanoi last October, the two countries agreed to comprehensively push forward bilateral cooperation over land, in the sea and in the financial sector.

But the latest string of deadly attacks by Vietnamese mobs against Chinese citizens and companies in Vietnam are particularly worrying.

The senseless attacks, which came after Vietnamese ships and personnel repeatedly harassed the normal operations by a Chinese oil company in undisputed waters in the South China Sea, cannot be justified under any circumstances.

The Vietnamese government, both under the international law and its bilateral agreement with China, bears the full responsibility of ensuring the safety of all the Chinese citizens and companies in the country.

Now, after an unconfirmed number of Chinese citizens are reportedly dead or missing, Hanoi faces the urgent task of demonstrating to the outside world that it is serious about protecting the legitimate rights of foreign nationals in the country.

It should also work fast to prove its credibility in maintaining law and order in those areas hardest-hit by violence.

These attacks, if unchecked, will surely damage Vietnam’s reputation as a favorable destination for international investment and tourism, which could deal a serious blow to the fast-growing Southeast Asian economy.

Some Western analysts have speculated that Hanoi might use these attacks as a bargaining chip in its negations with China.

But it is both naive and barbarian to think in this way. It simply violates the fundamental principle of humanity to use the loss of human lives to advance one’s policy objectives.

As for the standoff in the South China Sea, Hanoi should exercise maximum restraint and avoid taking any measures that might further escalate the situation.

The channels for talks and negotiations are always open between the two countries, and this is high time for them to be used.

After all, it serves the interest of both China and Vietnam to maintain stability in the South China Sea and to improve bilateral relations.

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