A concert by a Chinese artistic group on Friday night to mark the anniversary of Chinese and Vietnamese diplomatic relations has been postponed because of an unexpected electrical issue, a Vietnamese official said.

Many people on Facebook had urged the government to cancel the performance as it coincides with China's takeover of Vietnam's Paracel Islands 44 years ago.

Nguyen Thai Binh, a spokesman at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the performance by a group from China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region could not go ahead as scheduled because of an unexpected electrical issue at the landmark Opera House in central Hanoi.

The ministry and the Chinese Embassy organized the concert.

Binh declined to say whether the postponement was connected to the sensitive timing but said officials from both countries were working to reschedule it.

"We have informed the Chinese Embassy of the postponement and are working with them on another venue at another time," Binh said.

Referring to Culture Minister Nguyen Ngoc Thien, lawyer Tran Vu Hai wrote on his Facebook post: "While Vietnam and China established diplomatic relations on Jan. 18, 1950, why did Mr. Thien allow the commemoration of the anniversary on this painful day?"

"If you don't want to receive fury from the social media and people, you should immediately order the cancellation of the performance," he added.

Even though Vietnam and China are communist neighbors, the Vietnamese are wary of Chinese territorial ambitions, particularly in the South China Sea.

China has occupied and built military installations on the Paracels following the naval battle on Jan. 19, 1974, in which more than 70 sailors from the South Vietnamese navy were killed.

Vietnam and China, along with the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan, also claim all or parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

China's military buildup on its artificial islands in the disputed waters has angered neighbors. The United States has expressed concern, saying although it is not a party to the disputes, it has responsibility to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight.

The Associated Press - January 20, 2018


Hanoi celebration highlights Vietnam-China diplomatic ties

The establishment of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and China was an important historical milestone, opening up a new period in the traditional relations between the two nations, said Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung.

Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate the 68th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries (January 18, 1950) in Hanoi on January 20, Trung said the Vietnam-China traditional friendship is a valuable asset of the two Parties, States and their people.

He urged the two sides to work hard to nurture and foster the relations.

The Deputy Foreign Minister highlighted positive development in the bilateral ties in 2017, especially visits by top leaders of the two Parties and States during the year.

Cooperation between the two countries in economy, trade, investment, tourism and people-to-people exchange also recorded fruitful outcomes, he said.

In its foreign policy of independence, multilateralisation and diversification of international relations, Vietnam attaches great importance to the traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation with China, Trung affirmed, adding that this is a consistent and long-term policy, and is a strategic choice and top priority in Vietnam’s foreign policy.

He expressed his belief that with efforts made by both sides, the relations will be constantly strengthened and will make new strides forward, importantly contributing to peace, cooperation and development in the region.

Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam Hong Xiao Yong also looked back at achievements in the Vietnam-China relations over the last 68 years in his speech.

He affirmed China attaches important to developing the friendship with Vietnam and is willing to work with Vietnam in realising common perceptions reached by the two countries' high-level leaders, towards deepening the Vietnam-China Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership.

Vietnam News Agency - January 20, 2018