Chinese Arrivals Still Up at Border Amid Vietnam Riots

Chinese nationals continued to cross over the border to Cambodia on Friday in the wake of tense and deadly riots that have broken out in neighboring Vietnam.

Mam Yoy, deputy chief of immigration police at the Bavet checkpoint in Svay Rieng province, said the total number of Chinese nationals crossing into Cambodia had risen from about 640 on Wednesday—a figure six times higher than normal—to about 1,000 by Friday.

“We have noticed that until today, more then 1,000 Chinese have been crossing the border,” he said.

“The situation is normal, because they are coming in just like other tourists, but they look unhappy,” Mr. Yoy added.

Up to 21 people have been killed in Vietnam since riots broke out following the arrival of a Chinese-owned oil rig in a part of the South China sea that Vietnam lays claim to.

Taiwanese factories have also been torched since tensions began mounting on Tuesday.

Sim Chi, president of Cambodian-Vietnamese Association, said his organization would be contacting the Chinese Embassy to discuss the problem.

“We haven’t set the date yet, but it will be as soon as possible and I don’t know how many people will come with me,” Mr. Chi said, before declining to comment further.

A spokesman for the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, Tran Van Thong, said foreign ministers from both countries are preparing to hold diplomatic talks over the issue.

“The Chinese authorities have seriously violated the maritime sovereignty of Vietnam,” Mr. Van Thong said.

“[I] don’t know if the Vietnamese will protest at the Chinese Embassy, but the current Cambodian government has banned protesting or marching and Vietnamese-Cambodian people respect Cambodia law,” he added.

He said Chinese nationals coming to Cambodia are “coming to Cambodia themselves,” not because they are being forced out of Vietnam by violence.

The opposition CNRP on Friday also issued a statement in support of what it called “Chinese refugees,” and asked opposition supporters to help however they can with the new arrivals. “Compatriots, please help the Chinese that are fleeing by providing food, homestays and medicines,” the statement said.

CNRP President Sam Rainsy, who is known for his anti-Vietnamese rhetoric, said in January that his party supports China’s claim to the disputed sea territory, parts of which are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said the Vietnamese are getting a taste of their own medicine.

“Vietnam has allowed its citizens to demonstrate against the Chinese, and they are fleeing to Cambodia, but in Cambodia they have allowed the Vietnamese to cut forests and take Cambodian people’s land,” he said.

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