Beijing Evacuates Chinese from Vietnam

China says it has evacuated more than 3,000 nationals from Vietnam following deadly rioting triggered by rising tensions over rival maritime claims in the South China Sea.

China's official Xinhua news agency said the evacuees include 16 nationals critically injured when Vietnamese protesters rampaged through foreign-owned factories on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The 16 were among about 150 workers injured at a steel plant in Ha Tinh province in a protest against China's move to install an oil rig in Vietnamese territorial waters.

On Saturday, the Hanoi government vowed to head off any further violence. Vietnam's lead police investigator also sought to defend security forces against charges of failing to curb the unrest. Lieutenant-General Hoang Kong Tu spoke a day ahead of expected anti-China protests in several Vietnamese cities. He said illegal acts will not be tolerated.

Analysts say the crisis has spawned the worst diplomatic breakdown between the two communist neighbors since a brief border war in early 1979.

Chinese claims to large swaths of the South China Sea have ratcheted up tensions across the region and triggered diplomatic and naval confrontations with the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and Brunei.

The United States has repeatedly blamed Beijing for the rising tensions, and Thursday U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told a top Chinese military official that Beijing's actions are dangerous. The Chinese general told Biden that Beijing will not back down.

Last month, President Barack Obama reassured U.S. allies in the region that Washington will stand by its commitments to help defend them. China claims that message is encouraging Vietnam and other governments to confront Beijing.

Some information for this report comes from Reuters.

VOA News / May 19, 2014 08:17 KST