Fourteen Chinese tourists were told to take off their T-shirts upon arrival at an international airport according to Vietnam media reports that Chinese observers slammed on Tuesday as mere hype aimed at stirring up anti-China sentiment.
Vietnamese border police stopped the 14 at Cam Ranh International Airport on Sunday night and told them to take them off before entering the country, Vietnamese VnExpress news site reported on Tuesday.
The 14 bore maps of China that included the nine-dash line, which demarcates China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The nine-dash line was promulgated by the then Chinese government in the 1940s and has been upheld by the successive governments in China, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The tourism department of the central province of Khanh Hoa said it would investigate the case and take further actions if necessary.
This was an individual behavior hyped by Vietnam's authority and media to incite nationalist sentiment against China, Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the Hainan-based National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times.
"It may harm bilateral ties if they continue to hype it or take any aggressive options in dealing with the related Chinese tourists," Chen said.
The incident reflected Vietnam's lack of confidence in its claims to the South China Sea and its excessive vigilance against China, said Liu Feng, a Hainan-based expert on the South China Sea.
In 2016, Vietnamese border officials refused to stamp new Chinese passports featuring the line and Chinese passport-holders were issued with a separate on-arrival visa, Vietnam's Tuoi Tre News reported.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday applauded the China-Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) leaders