Beijing may be considering a military response to anti-China protests that have erupted in Vietnam over the last two weeks, with reports of an “endless stream” of PLA troops, tanks, missile launchers and other heavy artillery heading to Pingxiang city, where the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979 began.
The protests were sparked by China’s attempt to place a huge state-owned oil rig inside Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on May 2, a move Vietnam treated as an illegal act of provocation. The deployment of the rig was accompanied by 80 ships including 7 PLA warships which were confronted by Vietnamese forces. Chinese ships used water cannons and rammed the Vietnamese ships, fueling a dispute that has raged ever since with violent anti-China riots leading to the death of 21 protesters.
After Beijing sent two planes and five ships to evacuate Chinese citizens from Vietnam last week, assets of a very different nature are heading to the border region as reports emerge of PLA troops in full combat gear on their way to Pingxiang city.