HANOI China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is paying close attention to an incident in which Chinese tourists in Vietnam accused the country’s customs officials of beating up one of them after he refused to tip them.
According to the ministry’s statement released on Saturday evening, a Chinese citizen surnamed Xie sustained serious injuries from being beaten by Vietnamese officials when he was crossing the border to return to China last Tuesday.
“The Chinese embassy in Vietnam and the foreign ministry’s consular affairs department have both made solemn representation to Vietnamese foreign ministry and its embassy in China, expressed serious concern to the incident and strong condemnation against violence by Vietnamese officials,” the statement said.
“The culprits should be punished severely. They should apologise to the victim and compensate for his losses,” the statement said, adding that the ministry had requested the Vietnamese authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident and in a timely manner.
Xie, 28, who was visiting Vietnam with his mother and fiancée, sustained fractures to three ribs in the attack, China News Service reported on Sunday.
The man’s fiancée said the trio, from Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, had “tips” demanded of them three times by Vietnamese government officials when they entered the country through Mong Cai port on January 25.
Each time, the officials demanded 30 to 50 yuan per person to check their documents, but did not provide them with receipts for the charges, the woman said.
When the family left Vietnam through the same port on February 7, a woman not dressed in uniform approached and asked for more money, the report said.
The Chinese man told the woman they had already paid money earlier and wanted to check with the Chinese embassy if the fees were necessary, the fiancée said.
In response, the Vietnamese woman called over seven or eight local officials, all uniformed.
The officials then surrounded the man and beat him up, the report said.
The man’s mother, who filmed the attack on her mobile phone, was restrained by the officials and had her phone taken from her, according to the report. All three Chinese tourists’ passports were also confiscated.
After the attack, the man was taken to a windowless room and forced to write a statement saying that the Vietnamese officials did not get violent with him and that his injuries were not related to them, the report said.
The officials also reportedly threatened to slap him if he did not do as he was told. It was only after he complied with their orders that the family’s passports were returned to his fiancée, according to the report.
Upon receiving the passports, the fiancée crossed the border to Dongxing Port in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and sought help from the Chinese border inspection authority.
Chinese officials then went to Mong Cai port to collect the injured man and took him for treatment at a local hospital.
An anonymous official from the Chinese embassy in Vietnam was quoted as saying that they had yet to receive any investigation updates from the Vietnamese authorities.
Another official from the Dongxing police department said they contacted the Vietnamese authorities last week but that officials at the meeting denied any such attack and said the man was injured while being chased by customs officials for undefined reasons, the report said.
The Vietnam Embassy in Beijing could not be reached by phone or fax from the South China Morning Post on Monday and Tuesday.
China has become Vietnam’s biggest source of foreign tourists, with 1.01 million mainland travellers visiting the country in the first five months of last year, up 44 per cent from the previous year, the Economic Daily reported, citing the statistics from the Vietnamese tourism authority.
– South China Morning Post