BEIJING — China on Sunday dispatched five ships to Vietnam to speed up the evacuation of its citizens after deadly anti-Chinese riots over Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in waters claimed by both countries.
The first ship departed Sunday morning from the southern island of Hainan, according to the official Xinhua news agency. It also said 16 critically injured Chinese were airlifted from Vietnam early Sunday aboard a chartered medical flight.
More than 3,000 Chinese have already been pulled out of Vietnam after the riots last week that left two Chinese dead and injured about 100 others, the Foreign Ministry said.
Vietnam has protested China’s positioning of the oil rig in the South China Sea on May 1 and sent ships to confront China’s vessels, setting off a tense standoff. After allowing anti-China protests last weekend, Vietnam’s authorities later clamped down on further demonstrations after the public anger against China boiled over into riots.
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Dozens of factories close to southern Ho Chi Minh City were trashed. In central Vietnam, a 1,000-strong mob stormed a steel mill, killing two Chinese workers and wounding hundreds more. Along with the Chinese, hundreds of Taiwanese people have fled the country by land and air.
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Saturday ordered a stop to anti-China protests.