By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HANOI — Authorities in Vietnam have shut down a newspaper for three months for articles that criticized China for asserting its sovereignty over territories claimed by both nations, state-controlled media reported Thursday.
The Ministry of Information and Communication shut down the semiweekly Du Lich (Tourism) for its "serious violation" of Vietnam's press law, the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper said.
Although Vietnam's government opposes Chinese policy toward the disputed territories, it wants to maintain friendly relations with its powerful northern neighbor.
Authorities accused the newspaper of publishing untruthful information, inciting violence and sowing hatred between nations, Thanh Nien said.
The report did not specify the untruthful information.
Ministry officials and newspaper executives were not immediately available for comment Thursday.
Communist Vietnam maintains strict control over all local media. The closure of the newspaper took effect Tuesday, and the ministry also ordered it to install new leadership, Thanh Nien reported.
In its Lunar New Year edition earlier this year, the newspaper ran several articles supporting anti-China protesters, praising them for their "pure patriotism."
Thousands of demonstrators, mostly university students, gathered in late 2007 near China's diplomatic missions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to protest Chinese policy toward three disputed archipelagos in the South China Sea, including the Spratly Islands.
China had announced a plan to create an administrative region called Sansha to manage the territory. The issue struck a nationalist chord in Vietnam, which has fought several wars against China, and the protesters took to the streets even though the government generally prohibits public protests of any kind.
The largely uninhabited islands and surrounding waters are believed to have large oil and natural gas reserves. They straddle busy sea lanes and are rich fishing grounds.
Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also claim sovereignty over all or some of the Spratlys.