PHNOM PENH —
Chinese citizens in Vietnam have begun crossing the border into Cambodia to escape violent protests over the South China Sea conflict.
Vietnamese Embassy spokesman in Phnom Penh, Trung Van Thong, told VOA's Khmer service the Chinese began crossing the border this week.
“They [Chinese] were not expelled from [Vietnam],” he said. “It is their personal decision. I do not know the reason why the Chinese no longer want to live there."
The number of Chinese who have come across from Vietnam is unclear and Cambodian officials have declined to comment on the border crossings, which took place after Chinese and Taiwanese factories were targeted by mobs in southern Vietnam.
Meanwhile the head of the Association of Khmer Vietnamese in Cambodia, Sem Chi, said his members plan to protest this week outside the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh.
But the Cambodian Ministry of Interior said such a protest would not be allowed.
"Foreigners cannot use Cambodian territory to stage a protest against another group of foreigners,” Khieu Sopheak said. “It is not allowed by law."
Cambodia has a sizable ethnic Vietnamese population and most members of the Khmer-Vietnamese Association are believed to be Cambodian citizens.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.