At least a dozen people were detained in Vietnam's capital on Sunday, according to an AFP correspondent on the scene, as anger mounts over a proposal to grant companies lengthy land leases.
The draft law at the centre of the furore would allow 99-year concessions in planned special economic zones, which some view as sweetheart deals for foreign and specifically Chinese firms.
Though Hanoi and Beijing routinely trade barbs over contested territory in the South China Sea, Vietnam often breaks up protests aimed at China.
In response to growing criticism over the bill, the communist government said on Saturday that it would ask parliament to delay approving it until the end of the year.
But that did not tamp down frustrations, as around 40 to 50 protesters gathered at Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake on Sunday holding signs opposing the legislation that said ‘Protest against the draft law on special economic zones’ and ‘Protest against leasing land to China’.
An AFP correspondent saw plainclothes police drag around 20 people away and move them into nearby buses. Authorities could not be reached for comment.
The incident followed the arrests of two people on Saturday in a southern part of the country for spreading leaflets calling for protests against the legislation, state media reported.
Images on social media also showed demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh City and other parts of Vietnam, as calls for action spread on Facebook earlier this week.
Public shows of dissent are rare in the one-party state, where a conservative leadership in place since 2016 has taken a more aggressive stance against activists.
A Vietnamese environmental activist was jailed for 14 years in February over protests against a toxic waste dump that killed tonnes of fish in 2016, an incident that sparked nationwide demonstrations.
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