Anti-China riots in Vietnam leave one worker dead, 141 injured

This was the first death in a wave of anti-China protests triggered by Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in the long-disputed seas on May 1.

HANOI // A crowd of about 1,000 people stormed a Taiwanese steel mill in Vietnam on Thursday and hunted down Chinese workers, killing one, attacking scores more and then setting the complex on fire.

It was the first deadly incident in a wave of anti-China protests triggered by Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in the long-disputed seas on May 1. Vietnam is angrily demanding that China remove the rig and has sent ships to confront it and a flotilla of Chinese escort ships, triggering fears of possible conflict.

Taiwanese companies, many of which employ Chinese nationals, have borne the brunt of the protests and violence, which is posing a challenge to the authoritarian government, which prides itself on maintaining peace and security.

The prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, said peaceful protests over the past few days were “legitimate”, but that anyone involved in violence should be punished severely.

Nervous Chinese expatriates were fleeing by land and air. Cambodian immigration police said 600 Chinese crossed into Cambodia over the land border in southern Vietnam on Wednesday, and that others were arriving on Thursday. Taiwan’s China Airlines was adding two additional charter flights from southern Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

In Beijing, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said China was “greatly shocked and concerned”.

“We urge the Vietnamese government to earnestly assume responsibility, get to the bottom of the incident, punish the perpetrators harshly, and pay compensation,” Ms Hua said.

The riot took place at a mill in Ha Tinh province in central Vietnam, about 350 kilometres south of Hanoi. It followed an anti-China protest by workers at the complex, operated by the conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group, one of the biggest foreign investors in Vietnam, according to Taiwan’s top representative in the country, Huang Chih-peng, and police.

* Reuters

Published: May 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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