HANOI (Reuters) – A Vietnamese woman carrying banners denouncing China’s claim to most of the South China Sea died on Friday after setting herself on fire in front of a landmark in the country’s largest city, local government officials said.
The 67-year-old woman set herself ablaze at about 6 a.m. in front of the Independence Palace, once the headquarters of the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government, in Ho Chi Minh City, Le Truong Hai Hieu, a senior city official, said by telephone.
“She carried banners saying ‘Against China in Vietnam’s sea’ and ‘I will bless Vietnam’s marine police’,” Hieu said.
The self-immolation took place a week after deadly riots in industrial parks led by demonstrators denouncing China’s deployment of a $1 billion deepwater rig in waters claimed by Vietnam 240 km (150 miles) off its coast. The foreign ministry said three Chinese nationals died in the unrest.