Scores of activists were detained in Vietnam’s capital on Sunday as they gathered to protest against China after it rejected a recent international ruling that dismissed its claims to much of the South China Sea. Activists had used social media to call for protests in Hanoi on Sunday in the wake of this week’s ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague which found there was no legal basis for Beijing’s claims to vast swathes of the South China Sea. The case was brought by the Philippines but the ruling has been a boon for other regional countries like Vietnam who also have competing claims to the strategic sea. Authorities in the capital Hanoi were ready for protests on Sunday. Plainclothes security forces were out in force, blanketing much of the city centre and keeping a close eye on any crowds that might be gathering, an AFP reporter on the scene said. Later in the day a group of nine activists held a brief rally outside the Philippines embassy. One held aloft a banner that read: “Thank you Philippines. You have a brave government.” Beijing lays claim to virtually all of the South China Sea, putting it at odds with regional neighbours the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, which also have partial claims. At least three Chinese nationals were killed in 2014 when rioting broke out in Vietnam after Beijing sent an oil rig into contested waters.
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