Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Factories burnt in Vietnam anti-China protest

Smoke and flames billow from a factory window in Binh Duong on 14 May as anti-China protesters set several factories on fire in Vietnam, according to state media, in an escalating backlash against Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in contested waters. Protesters reportedly targeted companies with Chinese characters in their logos or signs

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Several factories have been set on fire amid anti-China protests at an industrial park in southern Vietnam, amid tensions over the South China Sea.

The park's management said three factories were set on fire on Tuesday, but other reports put the figure as high as 15.

No casualties have been reported but officials said many arrests were made.

The protests came after China moved a drilling rig into waters claimed by Vietnam earlier this month.

In a daily press briefing, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Vietnam was a "provocateur" and that Beijing had expressed concern to Hanoi.

Amid reports that Taiwanese factories in the park had sustained damage, Taiwan strongly condemned the protest and summoned the Vietnamese envoy to Taipei to express serious concern, according to state media.
'Chinese targeted'
The management of the Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) said that protesters gathered on Monday in Thuan An town, in the southern Binh Duong province.


Nationalist sentiment of this intensity has not been seen in Vietnam for many years.
Tuesday's protests in Binh Duong confirmed the government's worst fear, that nationalism could easily get out of hand, posing a great risk not only to the business environment but also to domestic political stability.
The Vietnamese authorities were quick to condemn the anti-China violence and arrested some people they called "agitators".
But critics say that other contributing factors such as social discontent and limited labour rights cannot be overlooked.

On Tuesday they moved on to VSIP's two industrial parks nearby and targeted factories owned or managed by the Chinese and Chinese expatriates.

A spokesman for VSIP told the BBC the three factories were set on fire on Tuesday evening after workers had gone home.

Not all of the tenants of the three factories were Chinese companies, she said. Some Taiwanese companies had been affected.

Other reports suggested the violence was more widespread, with more factories targeted.

A local official estimated that around 19,000 workers took part in the protest and that at least 15 factories were set on fire, according to local media. Some are reportedly owned by Taiwanese and South Korean companies.

One photo carried by Vietnamese media showed a factory had draped a South Korean flag at its entrance in a bid to stave off attacks.

The BBC also spoke to an employee of a Singaporean company in the industrial park who saw four burnt buildings on Wednesday morning.

Another eight were partially damaged, and had shattered windows and smashed front gates. These included buildings belonging to a Taiwan-founded shoe company.

"The protesters appeared to have targeted companies that had Chinese characters in their logos or signs," said the employee, who declined to be named.

Anti-China protesters wave Vietnamese flags as they rally on a street in Binh Duong on 13 May Protesters reportedly started gathering on Monday and grew in strength by Tuesday evening

An employee of a Chinese company raises her hands while trying to stop Vietnamese protesters in Binh Duong province on 14 May. Employees of companies in the Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park appealed to protesters to stop

In this picture taken on 13 May, police officers stand with protective shields on the side of a street in Binh Duong, as anti-China protesters set factories on fire in Vietnam. Police officers with riot gear arrived at the industrial park on Tuesday evening as protesters attacked buildings

The protest has spooked some foreign companies.

Reuters reported that Hong Kong-listed sports shoe maker Yue Yuen, which supplies footwear to Adidas, Nike and other international brands, had suspended production in Vietnam.

Earlier this month, China moved its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig to a spot 120 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam.

The area is near the Paracel Islands, over which China and Vietnam have contesting claims.


The move sparked bitter protest from the Vietnamese government, which demanded an immediate pull-out.

Last week, several collisions were reported between ships from the two countries as Vietnam sought to block the installation of the rig.

Ships have also been exchanging water cannon fire and dozens of vessels are reported to be in the area.

Protests have been staged in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City over the past week, while on Tuesday the US warned China that its actions were "provocative".
'Intentions not clear'
Beijing claims a U-shaped swathe of the South China Sea that covers areas other South East Asian nations say are their territory.

In this photo released by Vietnam Coast Guard, a Chinese ship, left, shoots water cannon at a Vietnamese vessel, right, while a Chinese Coast Guard ship, centre, sails alongside in the South China Sea, off Vietnam's coast, Wednesday, 7 May 2014 Ships from Vietnam and China have been exchanging water cannon fire

The issue has been rumbling in recent years amid an increasingly assertive stance from China over its claims.

The Philippines on Wednesday accused China of reclaiming land on a disputed South China Sea reef in order to build a new facility - possibly an airstrip or a military base.

Manila lodged a protest last month after images taken from the air showed China had been moving materials into Johnson Reef in the Spratly Islands, officials said.

"We're not exactly sure what are their intentions there," Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told the Associated Press news agency.

Ties between Beijing and Manila have deteriorated severely in recent months because of the territorial row.

Manila is taking Beijing to an international court over the issue. It also recently signed a security deal with the US allowing more troops onto its soil, in a move seen as reflecting the difficult ties with China.