I've mentioned this before on this page, but it bears repeating: Vietnam and China do not get along well. There are centuries of animosity at play thanks to a rough mutual history, and in 1979 they fought a brief but violent border war that both sides claim they won. Anti-China sentiment is as high as ever here thanks to the ongoing dispute over two groups of rocky, mostly inhospitable islands in the South China Sea (or East Sea, as it's called in Vietnam). It isn't uncommon to hear people complain about China, and one time a friend of mine asked one of her classes what superpower they would choose if they could have one. One student said her power would be to "kill Chinese people". Oi.
Sadly much of this hatred...or at least dislike...is stoked by the Vietnamese media, who regularly publish articles on alleged frauds, scams, malpractices, mass killings, cheats, schemes and plans to take over the world cooked up by Chinese people and targeted at Vietnam and its people. Sometimes national problems are blatantly blamed on China. I'm now going to list a bunch of links to stories that don't exactly paint China in the best light. They are all from Tuoi Tre, since I see a lot of their articles every day, but everyone is guilty of the same thing here.
1) China is stealing Vietnam's coffee brands - A Guangzhou coffee company patented the names 'Buon Ma Thuot' and 'Buon Ma Thuot Coffee 1896'. BMT is at the center of Vietnam's coffee-growing region and it is famous for its morning brews. And now China is just taking its name!
2) Chinese plums are giving us cancer - Chinese authorities have discovered that pickled and dried plums, peaches, and other kinds of fruit produced by three companies there contain certain additives that may cause cancer at three times the allowed level. Even worse, this fruit can be found at markets all over Saigon! And the packages don't even have any labels on them!
3) Ethnic Vietnamese festivals are selling Chinese stuff - At the Vietnam Ethnic Groups Cultural Festival, which took place outside of Hanoi last month, people were stunned, STUNNED to find that Chinese products, of all things, were being sold next to traditional Vietnamese handicrafts. Unbelievable.
4) Chinese workers don't have work permits! - Authorities discovered that 15 Chinese workers at a plant didn't have work permits. There are many stories covering similar ground, and the outrage expressed is especially funny because there are tons of people working here without permits, but you only ever hear about Chinese people getting in trouble for it.
5) Chinese clinics are deceiving people - Chinese-owned clinics throughout the city are apparently making up diagnoses and treatments in order to scam money out of Vietnamese people who think they are sick. Their slick advertising is apparently just a bunch of lies. Best quote from the story: "Trung Nam General Hospital...is one of the places that could inflate a supersized balloon with their hot air."
6) Chinese glassware will kill you - Certain kinds of Chinese drinking glasses and bowls are not only cheap, but they also contain levels of a few heavy metals that are thousands of times above safe levels.
7) Chinese additives in beef will kill you - Last month officials discovered tons of lean-meat agents imported from China. These apparently help cattle develop meat quickly, although they are thought to be poisonous.
8) Chinese girls kill cuddly bunnies - In probably the most bizarre of these stories, an online video depicting Chinese teenagers stomping on bunnies is discussed. Nothing more needs to be said.
9) Your children's toys were smuggled from China - Over 160,000 toys with unclear origins were confiscated after allegedly being smuggled in from the Middle Kingdom.
10) Chinese machinery is ruining Vietnam - Chinese machinery imports face zero taxes, giving them an advantage over domestic companies. And, of course, these Chinese machines are poor quality - thus RUINING Vietnamese industry!
Now I have no idea how true or untrue any of these claims are, but they are so common that either something is wrong with China...or people here are just really paranoid. I guess it's probably some combination of the two.