China yesterday demanded Vietnam apologize to and compensate a Chinese tourist who says he was beaten up by Vietnamese border guards, after failing to pay a bribe - an incident that provoked outrage among mainland internet users.
The call comes a month after the neighbors pledged to safeguard peace in the disputed South China Sea, nearly all of which is claimed by China, although Vietnam and four other Asian nations have also staked claims in the oil-rich area.
Last week, a group of about eight uniformed men beat a Chinese man, surnamed Xie, in the northern city of Mong Cai on the border with China, after he failed to pay a "tip," the state- run China News Service said, citing the victim.
"China demands that Vietnam apologize and pay compensation to the victim, severely handle those involved, and take effective measures to ensure an incident does not happen again," Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said.
Vietnam has already suspended eight people involved in the incident, he added.
State media pictures of a bruised Xie in hospital were widely shared online, sparking angry comments calling the incident a matter of national pride for China and slamming Vietnam.
Chinese tourists made up nearly 30 percent of all visitors to Vietnam last year.