HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam’s prime minister has sent a text message to millions of Vietnamese urging them to boost their patriotism to “defend the fatherland’s sacred sovereignty” but not to engage in violence.

Vietnam China Anger

Vietnamese protesters hold banners during a protest rally against China outside the Chinese Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Saturday, May 10, 2014. Around 100 people gathered and protested China’s deployment of an oil rig in the disputed South China Sea, in the country's commercial capital. Pic: AP.

The message that was sent late Thursday and into Friday to subscribers of the country’s cell phone operators didn’t directly condemn the riots that have broken out this week following China’s decision to deploy an oil rig in disputed waters off Vietnam on May 1.

It said that only that “bad elements should not be allowed to instigate extremist actions that harm the interests and image of the country.”

Vietnamese patrol ships sent to the rig are currently locked in a standoff with Chinese ships guarding it.

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