A doctor at a hospital in central Ha Tinh province said five
Vietnamese workers and 16 other people described as Chinese were
killed on Wednesday night in rioting, one of the worst breakdowns in
Sino-Vietnamese relations since the neighbors fought a brief border
war in 1979.
"There were about a hundred people sent to the hospital last night.
Many were Chinese. More are being sent to the hospital this
morning," the doctor at Ha Tinh General Hospital told Reuters by
Local media has, however, said only person was killed, while China's
state news agency Xinhua reported that at least two Chinese
nationals had died and more than 100 hospitalized.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called on police and state
and local authorities to restore order and ensure the safety of
people and property in the affected areas.
"Appropriate measures should be taken immediately to help businesses
stabilize quickly and return to normal production activities," he
said in a statement, without elaborating.
The Planning and Investment Ministry blamed the clashes on
"extremists" and warned that they could seriously affect the
investment environment in Vietnam.
Formosa Plastics Group, Taiwan's biggest investor in Vietnam, said
its upcoming steel plant in Ha Tinh was set on fire after fighting
between its Vietnamese and Chinese workers. One Chinese worker was
killed and 90 others injured, it said in a statement in Taipei.
It was not immediately clear if the casualties were among those
admitted to the Ha Tinh hospital.
The plant is expected to be Southeast Asia's largest steel making
facility when it is completed in 2017. No details of fire damage or
financial losses were immediately available, the company said.
The Ha Tinh industrial park, estimated to cost more than $20
billion, is more than half complete. When finished in 2020, it will
have a port, a 2,100-MW power plant and six furnaces, Vietnamese
MAINSTAY OF ECONOMY
Such industrial zones are the backbone of Vietnam's $138 billion
economy. The country has 190 registered industrial parks employing
about 2.1 million people. They manufactured products worth $38
billion in exports last year, or 30 percent of Vietnam's total
The anti-China riots erupted in industrial zones in the south of the
country on Tuesday after protests against Beijing placing an oil rig
in a part of the South China Sea claimed by Hanoi.
The brunt of the violence has been borne by Taiwanese firms,
mistaken by the rioters as being owned by mainland Chinese.
China expressed serious concern over the violence in Vietnam
and urged it to punish criminals and compensate victims. Foreign
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying suggested Hanoi had turned a blind
eye to the protesters.
"The looting and stealing that has taken place at Chinese businesses
and to Chinese people has a direct relationship with Vietnam's
winking at and indulging law breakers there."
Although the two Communist neighbors have close economic and
political ties, Vietnamese resentment against China runs deep,
rooted in feelings of national pride and the struggle for
independence after decades of war and more than 1,000 years of
Chinese colonial rule that ended in the 10th century.
The dispute in the South China Sea has sparked anger on both sides.
Dozens of vessels from the two countries are around the oil rig, and
both sides have accused the other of intentional collisions,
increasing the risk of a confrontation.
Vietnamese are also angered by what they call exploitation of its
raw materials and resources by Chinese firms, and say although
bilateral trade is over $50 billion annually, Chinese investment in
Vietnam is only around $2.3 billion.
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China faces similar accusation in other emerging markets, especially
in Africa. Some 85 percent of China's exports from Africa are raw
materials, such as oil and minerals, and Beijing has been accused of
holding back the continent's economic development by ignoring the
creation of local jobs and markets.
Thousands of Vietnamese set fire to foreign factories and rampaged
through industrial zones in Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces near
Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday, officials said. Protests continued on
Hundreds of Chinese working in the zones have fled, most to
neighboring Cambodia and others by air.
"Yesterday more than 600 Chinese people from Vietnam crossed at
Bavet international checkpoint into Cambodia," Cambodian National
Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith told Reuters.
Bavet is on a highway stretching from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's
commercial centre, to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.
At Ho Chi Minh City airport, scores of Chinese were arriving in
large groups, queuing to grab tickets or get on the first flights to
Malaysia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Singapore and China.
"People don't feel safe here, so we just want to get out of
Vietnam," said Xu Wen Hong, who works for an iron and steel company
and bought a one-way ticket to China.
"Even to Thailand and Cambodia. If there are no more tickets to
China, they think just leaving Vietnam is enough.
"We're scared, of course. With all the factories burning, anyone
would be scared in this situation."
In Binh Duong province alone, police said 460 companies had reported
some damage to their plants, local media reported.
"More than 40 policemen were injured while on duty, mainly by bricks
and stones thrown by extremists," the state-run Thanh Nien (Young
People) newspaper said.
About 600 people were arrested for looting and inciting the crowd,
the newspaper quoted Vo Thanh Duc, the police chief of Binh Duong
province, as saying.
The United States has called on both sides for restraint.
Such disputes "need to be resolved through dialogue, not through
intimidation," White House spokesman Jay Carney told a regular
briefing. "We again urge dialogue in their resolution."
The U.S. State Department said it was monitoring events in Vietnam
closely, and urged restraint from all parties, while adding: "We
support the right of individuals to assemble peacefully to protest."
The crisis erupted soon after a week-long visit to Asia by President
Barack Obama in late April in which he pledged that Washington would
live up to its obligation to defend its allies in the region.
(Reporting by Nguyen Phuong Linh, Martin Petty, Phnom Penh Bureau,
Rachel Armstrong in Singapore, Faith Hung in Taipei and Megha
Rajagopalan in Beijing; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by
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