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China evacuates citizens from Vietnam
May 18, 2014, 10:06 am

Passenger ship "Wuzhishan" leaves for Vietnam from Xiuying port in Haikou, capital of south China's Hainan Province, May 18, 2014 [Xinhua]

Passenger ship “Wuzhishan” leaves for Vietnam from Xiuying port in Haikou, capital of south China’s Hainan Province, May 18, 2014 [Xinhua]

As Beijing evacuated thousands of Chinese nationals from Vietnam, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Sunday China will suspend bilateral exchanges with the country.

Beijing was responding to the deadly violence against Chinese nationals in the country, that have left two Chinese nationals dead and more than 100 others injured.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said China has now sent out an increased security warning for Chinese tourists in Vietnam, warning its citizens not to travel to the country.

“The severe violence targeting foreign companies in Vietnam since May 13 has caused casualties and property losses for Chinese nationals. This sabotaged the atmosphere and conditions for bilateral communication and cooperation,” Hong said.

He added that China will also consider “taking further measures according to the situation’s development”.

Following the travel warning, several Chinese carriers announced cancellation of flights. China’s Spring and Autumn Airlines said it would suspend nine flights carrying 350 passengers to Vietnam in the next month. China Eastern Airlines also issued a statement saying passengers were changing or canceling travel plans to Vietnam.

More than 3,000 Chinese nationals have already been evacuated from Vietnam as of Saturday afternoon, China’s Foreign Ministry said early Sunday morning.

16 critically injured Chinese nationals were brought back home in a chartered medical flight on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, the first of the five Chinese ships sent on Sunday to evacuate Chinese nationals will reach Vietnam soon, the Ministry of Transport said.

Tensions between the two neighbours flared after Vietnam failed to rally support against China at an ASEAN meet in Malaysia earlier this month.

Vietnam’s prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, had told ASEAN leaders that Beijing was “endangering peace and stability” in the region.

“This extremely dangerous action has been directly endangering peace, stability, security, and marine safety,” Dung said.

China had sent a huge oil rig into waters, claimed by both China and Vietnam earlier this month.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying rebuked Vietnam on Monday for bringing its South China Sea dispute with Beijing to the ASEAN meet.

“The facts are clear that Vietnam’s attempt to rope in others to put pressure on China will not achieve its goal. The Chinese side is always opposed to one or two countries’ attempts to use the South China Sea issue to harm the overall friendship and cooperation between China and ASEAN,” Hua said.

Disappointing Vietnam, a statement issued by the ASEAN foreign ministers said that China and Vietnam must abide by the provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

They also urged self-restraint and for both countries to refrain from further escalating tensions.


TBP and Agencies