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Talk of the Day -- First-hand accounts of tensions in Vietnam

2014/05/14 17:58:15

Looted Taiwanese factory in Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of Vietnam-based Taiwanese businessmen)

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Anti-Chinese protests raging in Vietnam have left Taiwanese businesses with operations in the southeast Asian country concerned for the safety of their property and even of themselves.

Protesters against China's deployment of an oil rig in disputed waters launched attacks Tuesday against factories owned by Chinese and Taiwanese firms in Binh Duong Province.

Several buildings were set on fire, and at least one Taiwanese national was injured, according to the Overseas Community Affairs Council in Taipei.

The Chinese oil rig was set up in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, a longtime point of contention between Beijing and Hanoi. China and Vietnam claim the area's waters and the resources within, and ships from both countries have headed to the area in recent weeks, where they have been engaged in several collisions and exchanges of water cannon fire.

The following are excerpts from Taiwanese dailies on conditions at Taiwan-invested factories in Binh Duong:

China Times:

So far, 25 Taiwan-run factories have been attacked, and two Taiwanese businesspeople have been injured in the province in Vietnam's largest anti-Chinese movement in years.

Protesters have forced their way into any factories that have signs in Chinese characters that lay in their path. They have demanded factory operations stop, called for worker strikes, smashed doors and windows, destroyed computers, and burned documents.

Tsai Yuan-chen, the head of a Taiwanese business union in Binh Duong, said that front gates have been broken down and factories have been left abandoned at the Song Than Industrial Park. He has advised Taiwanese nationals working there to gather at a hotel where he has called on local police to provide protection.

Vietnamese authorities have sent in riot police in response to demands from Taiwanese businesses and Taipei's representative office to the country, according to Tsai. He urged protesters to prevent incidents from escalating out of consideration for the impact on Vietnam's global reputation. (May 14, 2014)

Apple Daily:

Mrs. Liu, who lives with her family in neighboring Ho Chi Minh City, said that Taiwanese residents in the area are worried. "The mob surrounded our dormitory in the night. Police came and removed them, but as soon as the police were gone they came back," she said.

Demonstrators began Tuesday by targeting factories with signs in Chinese, but by evening a Taiwanese national had written on Facebook: "They're not looking at flags or signs anymore. Japanese, Koreans, Europeans, Americans, and Singaporeans are all seeing indiscriminate attacks!" (May 14, 2014)

United Daily News:

"The mob is like a bunch of bandits," said a frightened Ms. Yen, a Taiwanese bicycle maker, by telephone from Binh Duong.

"Work has stopped at a lot of Taiwanese factories, and things are chaotic. The industrial park looks like a killing field."

The majority of Taiwanese people in the area made their way to a local hotel, while some stayed at the homes of friends and others hid in areas with high foreign populations, Yen said.

Chen Yao-kui, honorary president of a national commerce association for Taiwanese businesses in Vietnam, noted that there are strict rules governing demonstrations in the communist country, implying that authorities may have given some degree of support to the protesters' actions.

Though the Taiwanese there thought that by proudly announcing themselves as being Taiwanese, they could avoid trouble, they soon found that the enraged Vietnamese workers did not care whether they were from Taiwan or mainland China. "Only now do you realize, we really are a part of China," a Taiwanese businessman said in frustration. (May 14, 2014)

(By Wesley Holzer)

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