Vietnam suspends newspaper over China reporting

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Authorities in Vietnam have shut down a newspaper for three months over controversial articles on a territorial dispute with neighboring China, state media reported Thursday.

The Ministry of Information and Communication shut down the biweekly Du Lich (Tourism) for its “serious violation” of Vietnam’s press law, the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper said.

Authorities accused the paper of publishing untruthful information as well as inciting violence and sowing hatred among nations, Thanh Nien said.

The report did not specify the information in question.

The shutdown took effect Tuesday, and the ministry also ordered the newspaper to reshuffle its leadership, Thanh Nien reported.

Communist Vietnam maintains strict control over all local media.

Ministry officials and newspaper executives were not available for comment Thursday.

In its Lunar New Year edition earlier this year, the newspaper ran a series of articles supporting anti-China protesters, praising them for their “pure patriotism.”

Thousands of demonstrators, mostly university students, gathered in late 2007 near the Chinese diplomatic missions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to protest China’s policy toward three archipelagos in the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands.

China had announced a plan to create a symbolic administrative region called Sansha to manage the disputed territory.

The largely uninhabited islands and surrounding waters are believed to have large oil and natural gas reserves. They straddle busy sea lanes and are rich fishing grounds.

Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also claim sovereignty over all or some of the Spratlys.

Although Vietnam’s communist government opposes China’s policy in the Spratlys, it wants to maintain friendly relations with its powerful northern neighbor.

But the Spratlys issue has struck a nationalist chord in Vietnam, which has fought several wars against China. The protesters took to the streets even though Vietnam’s government generally prohibits public protests of any kind.

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