Vietnam Police halted demonstrations against plans for new special economic zones

Protesters hold a banner which reads "No Leasing Land to China even for Anytime" during a demonstration against a draft law on the Special Economic Zone in Hanoi, Vietnam June 10, 2018. REUTERS/Staff

Vastavam web: Police in Vietnam detained more than a dozen protesters in the capital Hanoi on Sunday and halted demonstrations in other cities against plans for new special economic zones that the protesters fear will be dominated by Chinese investors.Vietnam said in May last year it planned to open three special economic zones that offer investors greater incentives and fewer restrictions than available in the country at present.The draft law does not identify potential foreign investors that can lease land for up to 99 years in the zones, but the protesters fear it will be dominated by neighbouring China.Police later bundled more than dozen protesters into vehicles and drove away. Similar demonstrations took place on Sunday in other cities throughout the country, including the economic hub Ho Chi Minh City, and were dispersed by police, activists said on social media. It was not clear if other protesters had been detained.

The government said on Saturday that it had asked the National Assembly to delay a vote on the draft law to allow for more research on the legislation.The initial draft law had said land in the zones could be leased for up to 99 years, but Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told local media last week the term would be reduced, although he did not say for how long.The protests come at a time of rising tensions over the disputed South China Sea, nearly all of which is claimed by China.