See More on Facebook

News

Controversial economic zones law sparks anti-China protests in Vietnam

Vietnamese protest against a proposed law which allows foreign investors to lease land for up to 99 years in three special economic zones (SEZs).


Written by

Updated: June 13, 2018

Protestors across Vietnam took to the streets on Sunday to oppose a controversial draft Law on Special Administrative and Economic Units which will allow foreign investors to lease land for 99 years in three proposed special economic zones (SEZs).

The government announced plans to establish the three new economic zones in the northern province of Quảng Ninh, the central province of of Khánh Hòa, and Phú Quốc Island last year, Reuters reported.

Aside from freeing would-be investors from the constraints of the usual local regulations, the proposed law for the new zones would also increase the maximum length of land leases from 70 years to 99 years.

Though the proposed bill does not mention China, many Vietnamese are concerned that Chinese investors will dominate the new zones, Reuters reported.

Vietnam’s relationship with its northern neighbor has long been a rocky one.

Both nations suffered heavy losses during a brief war in 1979 and have since repeatedly butted heads over the oil and natural gas-rich South China Sea.

Though a number of countries lay claim to the disputed area, China has repeatedly insisted that much of the sea falls within its so-called nine dash line, bringing it into conflict with other countries, including Vietnam.

Vietnamese protested in 2014 when a Chinese oil rig was set up off the nation’s coast, and the country dropped a major oil project with Spanish company Repsol earlier this year in response to pressure from China.

Vietnam has also complained of Chinese forces harassing fishing vessels.

Addressing rising public discontent over proposed legislation, which was originally scheduled for voting during the on-going fifth national assembly, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said last Thursday (June 7) that the government was considering reducing the 99-year lease, Reuters reported.

On Saturday morning, the government announced that the vote to approve the controversial new law had been postponed until the sixth national assembly in October.

Still, demonstrators took to the streets on Sunday, leading to scores of arrests and damage to property, according to local media.

In the southern province of Binh Thuan, protestors hurled rocks and homemade petrol bombs at police officers and damaged the headquarters of the provincial People’s Committee. The building’s fence was destroyed, and its sentry box and several rooms of the sentry force were burned, Vietnam News reported.

At least 45 police officers were injured and 102 protestors were arrested.

Deputy Minister of Public Security Nguyễn Văn Sơn called on Tuesday for an investigation into the the incident and strict punishments for the instigators, Vietnam News reported.

Protests also occurred in other areas of the country, including the capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam’s economic centre.

Speaking before Monday’s National Assembly session, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân called for calm, saying some people had misunderstood the nature of the matter and the bill’s content, leading to the incidents, Vietnam News reported.

She urged the people to believe in the party and state, which she claimed would listen when the people speak.

During the session, 85 per cent of NA deputies voted to postpone the adoption of the bill.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Nadia Chevroulet
About the Author: Nadia is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

News

Southeast Asian elections will be defined by young voters

More than half of the population of Southeast Asia is under the age of 30. Therefore, it stands to reason that this segment of the population will have an outsized influence in coming political contests. Candidates across the region have their eyes turned toward capturing young votes, and that mission is having an affect on their platforms, and the way they campaign. Indonesia In Indonesia, Millennials make up nearly half of the electorate, and as such, candidates are working hard to woo young people. But, according to research it’s a tricky voter segment to pin down—and one that has traditionally been less politically engaged.


By Quinn Libson
February 18, 2019

News

Basic Income in India has been tried before

Is Rahul Gandhi’s basic income a ploy, history holds on a lesson. Speaking to a rally of farmers in Chhattisgarh on Monday, opposition candidate Rahul Gandhi announced that if his party is voted into power in the country’s upcoming national elections then it will introduce a Universal Basic Income of sorts. The “minimum income guarantee” would go out to every “poor person” in India—meaning those that fall within a minimum threshold level of income—and could potentially replace other government welfare systems: subsidies on food, fuel, etc. By the international standard set out by the World Bank, nearly 22 percent of the Indian population falls below the poverty line.


By Quinn Libson
January 31, 2019

News

India’s cyber legislation is part of a worrying trend

International technology firms face sweeping new regulations in India that have the potential to create major shifts in the country’s cyber landscape. The new pieces of legislation were proposed as 2018 came to a close and require technology companies like Facebook and Google to store user data locally, and would also require these companies to police content and remove material the government of India deems unlawful.  Such content would include messages that threaten the “sovereignty and integrity of India.” The rules requires these companies to take action on such messages within a 24 hour period. Such regulations that require companies to monitor content isn’t unique to India. Vietnam has recently passed similar laws, with similar potential consequences. New rules also mandate that companies reveal the origin of particular messages when that information is requested. If that section of t


By Quinn Libson
January 17, 2019

News

What does Vietnam’s new cyber law mean for online dissent?

Will Facebook kowtow to the Vietnamese government to keep its market share. Facebook is in violation of a Vietnamese new cybersecurity law by allowing its users to post content critical of the communist government on its platform, the Ministry of Information and Communication announced on Wednesday of last week. The news came just days after the law went into effect on Jan. 1. The new legislation requires internet companies to comply with government demands to remove user-posted material it doesn’t like. The law also stipulates that information technology companies—Facebook and Google for instance—may be required to set up local offices and store customer data domestically, a feature which human rights advocates worry might make it easier for the government to track and charge dissidents for their online activities. This new legislation follows a pattern of increasing digital scrutiny by th


By Quinn Libson
January 15, 2019

News

2019 is a year for major Chinese anniversaries

President Xi Jinping delivered a major speech on Wednesday on Taiwan, one of the hottest button issues for the country. The speech took place to acknowledge the 40th anniversary of a the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” a crucial policy statement issued on Jan. 1, 1979 by the National People’s Congress that helped lead to a rapprochement between Mainland China and Taiwan. Xi’s speech sent a stern warning to those that advocate for Taiwan’s independence, including Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who is up for re-election in January 2020, and her supporters. “It is a historical and legal fact, that Taiwan is part of China and the two sides across Taiwan Straits belong to one and the same China, can never be altered


By Quinn Libson
January 8, 2019

News

Preview: A year of elections for Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia will have a busy political calendar in 2019 with voters in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines heading to the polls within the year. Thailand In December, Thailand lifted its ban on political activity that has been in place for the past four years as the kingdom prepares for a general election on Feb 24—the country’s first in eight years. The last election the country attempted, in 2014, was sabotaged by anti-government protesters acted to prevent the Pheu Thai Party and its head Yingluck Shinawatra from returning to power. Pheu Thai went on to be ousted by a coup led by then-army chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha and has spent the last five years under military rule. Since then, the military junta has rewritten the Thai Constitution in a wa


By Quinn Libson
January 7, 2019