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During a phone call with his Vietnamese counterpart on Saturday, China’s Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun said that the “Vietnamese government should be accountable for the violent attacks on Chinese companies and staff”.
“We are strongly dissatisfied by the Vietnamese side failure to respond effectively to curb an escalation of the situation,” he said.
Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday that at least 100 Chinese nationals were hospitalized during violent protests triggered after a Chinese oil rig moved into the disputed waters near the Xisha Islands (known to the Vietnamese as Hoàng Sa Archipelago).
Meanwhile, Chinese media reported that a meeting between Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao and Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh was held in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Friday to discuss the attacks on Chinese companies and assets in Vietnam.
Liu told his counterpart that the Chinese government’s priority was the safety of its nationals abroad and urged Hanoi take tough action against the rioters.
There has been no report whether the two sides discussed their territorial dispute.
On Friday, authorities in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi raised the death toll from one to three, adding that one man had been identified as Chinese and the other two were still listed as unknown.
Medical sources over the weekend, however, said they had seen nearly two dozen corpses, many of whom were Chinese nationals.
Beijing has issued a travel advisory saying Chinese nationals should avoid going to Vietnam.
Earlier in the week, Yi Xianliang, the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, said that “China is deeply surprised and shocked” at the recent developments in the South China Sea.
Since his comments, the number of Vietnamese vessels around the oil rig jumped to over 60 from the initial reports of 37.
“Vietnamese vessels are colliding intentionally with Chinese vessels carrying out normal operations, trying to disturb and stop the drilling work by Chinese,” Yi said in Beijing.
He said that the drilling operations were centered at 17 nautical miles (some 31 kilometers) from China’s Zhongjian Island, which he says are within Beijing’s territorial waters.