A large number of People’s Liberation Armytroops have reportedly been spotted heading towards the China–Vietnam border as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate, reports Hong Kong’s Sing Tao Daily. Sing Tao Daily is generally considered to be aligned to Chinese state media.
Thousands of Chinese nationals living or on business in Vietnam have already fled the country amid anti-China riots, which were sparked by a tense standoff between Chinese and Vietnamese naval ships near a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters off the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on May 4.
The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed Friday that at least two Chinese nationals have been killed and nearly a hundred were injured during violent protests last week that saw dozens of Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong factories set on fire. The UK’s Guardian claims as many as 21 people have died.
As yet another large-scale anti-China protest was scheduled for Sunday, Chinese netizens reported seeing an “endless stream” of PLA soldiers in full combat gear at Chongzuo train station, apparently on their way to the 97-kilometre China-Vietnam border at Pingxiang city in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. The soldiers were said to have been accompanied by tanks, armoured vehicles, missile launchers and other heavy artillery.
Pingxiang was where the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979 began, and locals are reportedly preparing to evacuate the area out of fears of an imminent military conflict.
Last week, Beijing denied that PLA troops had been sent to Guangxi and also denied reports that neighbouring Yunnan province had been put on high alert and escalated to combat readiness levels, but that has not stopped rumours of a military response to the Vietnam riots from continuing.
Update 19th May 2014 – Epoch Times reports:
Troops, tanks, trucks, artillery, and armored personnel carriers of China’s military were seen heading to the Vietnamese border on May 16 and 17, according to photographs taken by by residents near the border.
Chinese netizens have been posting photographs of the large movement of the People’s Liberation Army, many of them showing Chinese troops in full combat gear heading to the local train station in Chongzuo, along with military vehicles.
One netizen said the Chinese military was taking the train from the Chongzuo station to Pingxiang City, which shares a 60-mile border with Vietnam. The netizen said that the Huu Nghi Border Gate to Vietnam is also now closed.
One of the photos, taken from inside a passenger train, shows the Chinese military preparing artillery for transport on a train track. Others show Chinese troops and military vehicles traveling along dirt roads.
A reverse image search of each of the photographs using Google indicated that the photographs had appeared on the Internet only recently. Most were indexed by Google on Saturday.
Collectively, the images and eyewitness reports from the ground show what Taiwanese media are calling an “endless stream” of Chinese troops.
One netizen, with the username Zhiyuan0703, echoed a common sentiment on the Chinese social media site, “Conflict between China and Vietnam is imminent.”
China is currently involved in territorial conflicts with nearly all its neighbours.