By Zhao Wei, Sina English
Vietnamese marched through Hanoi's streets shouting 'down with China!' in a chaotic protest on July 1 following a week of growing tensions over the South China Sea disputes.
The protest follows an announcement by China National Offshore Oil Corp. that it will open nine oil and gas offshore blocks in the South China Sea to international bidders, according to a report by Australia’s Sky News.
It is reported that about 200 people waved flags and chanted in the rain as they walked through the center of the capital toward the Chinese Embassy. Police stopped traffic and did not attempt to quash the demonstration, but the area near the embassy was cordoned off.
China's state-backed China National Offshore Oil Corp. issued a tender on June 23 to invite foreign companies to jointly develop nine blocks in the western part of the South China Sea. Vietnam has cried this move illegal saying it "encroaches on its territorial waters."
Chinese Foreign Minister Hong Lei said during a news briefing that the tender was quite a "normal business activity".
"China and Vietnam have reached many agreements regarding the settlement of maritime disputes," Hong added. "We hope Vietnam will respect these agreements and avoid taking any action that may complicate the matter."