HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A small group of Vietnamese marched Sunday to denounce China's actions in the South China Sea after about two dozen other protesters were rounded up by police, shoved onto buses and driven away.

Those permitted to rally were herded by police in riot gear away from an area near the Chinese Embassy and some were later detained. The other group — some who protested briefly and others who were detained before starting — were hauled away on buses with dark windows. One man was kicked several times on the ground by police and carried away.

Demonstrations are rare in communist Vietnam and typically quashed quickly by police, but authorities have allowed the anti-China protests to take place for several weeks. However, last weekend, protesters, along with journalists covering the event for foreign news agencies, including The Associated Press, were briefly detained.

Vietnam and China have been at increasing odds since May over territory in the South China Sea claimed by both countries. Hanoi has twice accused Beijing of hindering oil exploration activities off Vietnam's coast. China alleges Vietnam put Chinese fishermen at risk near the disputed Spratly islands, which are claimed all or in part by both countries and several other Asian nations.

Tempers appeared to be cooling after the two sides met late last month and announced plans to negotiate to try to reach a peaceful resolution. But last week, a border official alleged that a Vietnamese fishing boat was chased and attacked by Chinese soldiers near the contested Paracel islands, also claimed by both countries. The boat captain was beaten but not seriously injured, according to the official.

Protesters on Sunday shouted "Down with China!" while carrying signs in English, Chinese and Vietnamese. One sign read: "China stop invading Vietnam. Stop murdering Vietnamese fishermen."

Last week, a group of nearly 20 outspoken Vietnamese scholars and former officials, including a former ambassador to China, submitted a petition to the country's leaders calling for more transparency regarding the ongoing spat with China and for the government to allow peaceful protests.

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