Anti-Chinese Violence Turns Deadly and Spreads in Vietnam
BINH DUONG PROVINCE, Vietnam — Violence against foreign-owned factories spread elsewhere in Vietnam and took a deadly turn, with officials saying Thursday that one Chinese worker had been killed and scores more injured when hundreds of protesting Vietnamese went on a rampage in a factory in the central part of the country.
The explosion of violence — initially centered outside the southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City — reflected growing animosity in the region as China works to solidify its claims over vast parts of two seas that other nations have long considered their own.
In Ha Tinh Province, in the northern part of central Vietnam, hundreds of protesting Vietnamese workers entered the Formosa Plastics Group steel plant on Wednesday afternoon, attacking Chinese nationals contracted to work there, the Taiwan-based company said Thursday. One Chinese worker was killed and 90 were injured in the violence, according to the company.The spasm of violence afflicting the country was ignited by anger over China’s decision to deploy an oil rig escorted by a flotilla of coast guard and other ships off the Vietnamese coast despite promises to settle territorial disputes by diplomacy.
The plants that were the target of the protests, part of an influx of international investment in recent years, have contributed to more than two decades of uneven, but at times rapid, economic growth in Vietnam, with some of the tensions rooted in anger at an influx of Chinese workers.
While the initial violence was tied to Beijing’s actions in the South China sea, the protesters focused some of their rage at workers from Taiwan, prompting China Airlines to send two charter flights Thursday to Ho Chi Minh City to handle a surge of Taiwanese who wanted to leave Vietnam. Along with two regularly scheduled flights, the airline it would be able to transport 1,325 passengers Thursday, it said in a statement. There were also reports of hundreds of mainland Chinese fleeing across the Cambodian border to Phnom Penh.
The protesters set fires and smashed and looted equipment, the company said, adding that it had asked the local authorities to beef up security as soon as the assault began and that the government sent vehicles to evacuate Chinese workers, who were removed by about midnight. The head of the Ha Tinh provincial government visited the factory around 10 p.m. Wednesday and met with security officials to try to restore order, Formosa Plastics said, but the rioting continued until early Thursday.