Huanqiu (Global Times), which is under People’s Daily, published a commentary that discussed recent developments in Sino-Vietnamese relations. The following is a summary of the commentary.
Starting on January 18, Vietnam organized a series of activities to commemorate "the 40th anniversary of the Paracel Islands maritime war" including photo exhibits of how the "Paracel Islands belong to Vietnam," "naval martyrs of the Paracel Islands maritime war," a candlelight vigil," and an international forum on the subject of how the "Paracel Islands belong to Vietnam." In addition to a handful of media directly under the central government, most domestic media reported on related activities. It is said that the Vietnamese side will host activities to commemorate "the 35th anniversary of the northern border Battle [against China]." The above facts show that the possibility that Sino-Vietnamese relations will "derail" has increased.
It is worth noting that nationalist sentiment in Vietnam is increasing. Sino-Vietnam relations are facing more and more severe challenges. In recent years, the differences between China and Vietnam have been increasingly focused on the South China Sea issue. On the South China Sea, Vietnam’s officials and the public’s views have been consistent: that it is "a matter of national survival." According to its maritime strategy planning, Vietnam expects to raise its maritime economic output to 53 to 55 percent of GDP by 2020. Therefore, advancing into the South China Sea is its inevitable choice. On the other hand, many Vietnamese worry that China will become an obstacle for Vietnam to achieve its goal. They believe a more powerful China will eventually endanger "the survival of the Vietnamese nation."
As long as China continues to defend its rights in the South China Sea and as long as the Vietnamese need to maintain their "national unity," it will be difficult for its [hostile] domestic sentiments towards China to subside.
Source: Huanqiu, January 21, 2014