The Chinese government has admitted the refugees involved in a deadly clash with Vietnamese border guards on Friday are from Xinjiang (East Turkestan) and did not mention anything about them grabbing guns from Vietnamese police. Vietnamese state media report five civilians and two Vietnamese officers were killed, four were injured, after the detainees snatched guns from Vietnamese police. The death toll from China is only one.
A document from the Fangchenggang city government dated April 18 says the gunfight happened around 1:10pm in the Vietnamese border gate of Ba Phong Sinh in Vienam’s Hải Hà City in Quang Ninh province bordering China’s Guangxi province.
“Local villagers say Vietnamese police were escorting a group of Xinjiang people (about 16 of them, including four women, two children) towards Bắc Phong Sinh. They went to the third floor of the Vietnamese border patrol office building to have a rest, ready to hand them over to China. Xinjiang people had a scuffle with Vietnamese police who then shot Xinjiang people. One Xinjiang person died. Others have dispersed. Three Vietnamese were injured.”
The one-page document, with the heading “Information of Political Tasks in Fangcheng District, Fangchenggang City” and issued by Chen Mansheng, was posted on weibo and circulated on Twitter. It states the Fangcheng district government deployed police immediately to the site in Vietnam to deal with the case. “Armed police, the military and Tansan Police Precinct all sent members to control the border gate of Lihuo.”
See below a photo of the document, the other two photos of the refugees are from Vietnamese media.
Vietnam’s state-owned newspaper Thahn Nien reports China alerted Vietnam of the border crossing Friday: “According to the Vietnamese Border guard, they were informed by Chinese colleagues at 5:30 a.m. this morning that a group of Chinese nationals was attempting to enter Vietnam illegally.”
VTV1 TV News phone interview with the head of Quang Ninh border about the refugees (Thanks Thien-Huong Carabella for sharing/translating): 2 were shot (dead), 3 jumped off the building and committed suicide, 4 injured. From Vietnam side: 2 were shot, among the injured (didn’t tell figure) there were 4 officers. Bac Phong Sinh border gate was closed until Saturday morning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKBXr3dqL54
Meanwhile, on Friday night, Vietnamese authorities in Tra Co of the Quang Ninh province arrested 21 people who arrived by boat from China. Vietnamese media reported the group may be linked to the 16 people who crossed the border in Bắc Phong Sinh that morning. But there haven’t been any reports saying they’re from Xinjiang.
Rose Tang is a writer and artist based in New York. She covered China for 12 years as a journalist for major Western media organizations such as CNN and taught journalism at Princeton University. She was named Journalist of the Year by Society of Publishers in Asia. She survived Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 as a student protester.