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One dead in Taiwanese plant in Vietnam anti-China protest

2014/05/15 18:33:21

Taipei, May 15 (CNA) A Chinese worker died of heatstroke and at least 90 other Chinese people were injured Wednesday night as protesters attacked a steel mill owned by Formosa Plastics Group (FPG), Taiwan's biggest investor in Vietnam, amid anti-China tension over Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in the South China Sea.

The overnight riot took place at a mill in Ha Tinh Province in central Vietnam, 250 km south of Hanoi, as a provocation launched by contract Vietnamese workers against Chinese workers at the steel plant turned violent, according to Taiwan's representative to Vietnam, Huang Chih-peng.

Since anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam spilled over into rioting earlier in the week, the conglomerate has been bearing the brunt, as two of its other plants are located in Binh Duong Province, where most of the violence has been concentrated, FPG said.

The Ha Tinh situation developed when hundreds of Vietnamese workers at the steel mill who had been hired by Chinese contract manufacturers went on strike and ransacked the factory, provoking the Chinese workers, and damaging offices and facilities.

The protest rapidly descended into violence, including arson and looting, and spread to a dormitory area for Chinese workers outside the plant, according to the spokesman.

After the riot erupted, the steel mill called the police seeking more police officers to be dispatched to quell the rioters and stop outsiders from swelling their ranks.

It also convened an emergency meeting asking the Chinese contract manufacturers to regulate their workers and evacuate Taiwanese and Vietnamese workers from the workplace to their dormitories.

Meanwhile, the evacuation of Chinese workers who fell victim to attacks was completed by midnight, with some taking shelter at employee dormitories owned by the plant in Ha Tinh. Some Vietnamese workers were still continuing to ransack and loot the factory in the early hours of Thursday.

The company said its Vietnamese and Taiwanese workers were not attacked and that so far, no exact figure for losses was available.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, mobs burned and looted hundreds of foreign-owned factories in southern Vietnam near Ho Chi Minh City, believing them to be Chinese-run. Many were actually Taiwanese, South Korean, Japanese or Singaporean. Authorities said they had detained more than 400 people.

The demonstrations were sparked by China's move earlier in the month to move an oil drilling rig into waters west of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, which are also claimed by Vietnam.

The relocation of the rig led to altercations between Vietnamese and Chinese ships as Vietnam sought to block the move.

(By Wei Shu and Evelyn Kao)
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Related stories:
●May 15: Situation in Vietnam has improved: foreign minister
●May 14: 2 Chinese die, 2 Taiwanese injured in Vietnam anti-China violence
●May 14: 10 Taiwanese factories in Vietnam set afire during protests
●May 14: Taiwan issues travel alerts for Ho Chi Minh City, suburban provinces

(Click here for developments related to the anti-China protest-turned-riot in Vietnam.)