A People's Liberation Army tank heads to the China-Vietnam border. (Internet photo)
A large number of People's Liberation Army troops have been spotted heading towards the China-Vietnam border as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate, reports Hong Kong's Sing Tao Daily.
Thousands of Chinese nationals living in or doing business in Vietnam have already fled the country amid riots sparked by a tense standoff between Chinese and Vietnamese naval ships near a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters off the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on May 4.
The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed Friday that at least two Chinese nationals have been killed and nearly 100 were injured during violent protests last week that saw dozens of Chinese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong factories set on fire. The UK's Guardian claims as many as 21 people have died.
As yet another large-scale anti-China protest was scheduled for Sunday, Chinese netizens reported seeing an "endless stream" of PLA soldiers in full combat gear at Chongzuo train station, apparently on their way to the 97-kilometer China-Vietnam border at Pingxiang city in southern China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. The soldiers were said to have been accompanied by tanks, armored vehicles, missile launchers and other heavy artillery.
Pingxiang was where the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979 began, and locals are reportedly preparing to evacuate the area out of fears of an imminent military conflict.
Last week, Beijing denied that PLA troops had been sent to Guangxi and also rejected reports that neighboring Yunnan province had been put on high alert and escalated to combat readiness levels, but that has not stopped rumors of a military response to the Vietnam riots from continuing.