Anti-Chinese demonstrations have become a common occurrence in Vietnam over the past decade. They are directed equally against the Vietnamese authorities, which protesters accuse of cozying up to Beijing. To a visitor, the resentment is palpable. "They kowtow: It's something like the slave and the boss," said Anh Chi, a political dissident who has participated in numerous anti-China protests.
The roots of popular hostility toward China run deep and wide. No other nation in Southeast Asia has been so exposed to the expansionary tendencies of its northern neighbor. For nearly a millennium to 938, China ruled northern Vietnam as an imperial province. Subsequently, Vietnamese kings fought off repeated invasions from the north, and resistance to outside domination -- mostly Chinese -- lies at the core of Vietnamese national identity.