Sat, May 17, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Vietnam still a safe destination: envoy

‘EXAGGERATIONS’:Hanoi’s envoy said repeated reports of the unrest in Vietnam have only created panic among Taiwanese and could harm Taiwan-Vietnam relations

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Vietnamese Representative to Taiwan Bui Trong Van, left, listens as Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin, right, talks at a press conference in Taipei yesterday about the anti-Chinese demonstrations in Vietnam.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Vietnamese Representative to Taiwan Bui Trong Van yesterday sought to reassure Taiwanese that the Southeast Asian country remains a safe investment and tourist destination, and called on the local media not to exaggerate reports about the recent unrest, saying it has sparked panic and could damage relations between Hanoi and Taipei.

“Repeated TV broadcasts of the protests have caused large-scale panic among people here in Taiwan. I hope everyone can refrain from exaggerating the situation because that cannot help us work together to get through the difficulty facing us,” Bui said in Mandarin at a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Bui said he felt regret and apologized for the damage and financial losses that Taiwanese businesses had suffered because of the work of some “lawbreakers and evildoers” during the protests earlier this week in Vietnam.

The protests were held in the wake of China’s deployment of an oil rig in waters close to the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), which are claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam and China. The demonstrations turned violent and many businesses owned by investors from Taiwan, China, Singapore, Japan and South Korea were attacked, looted and destroyed.

More than 1,000 people involved “in the violent and illegal actions” were arrested, which shows the Hanoi government’s determination to enforce the law, Bui said.

The Vietnamese government has promised that those who have broken the law will be charged and severely punished, and that it will “take a responsible attitude in dealing with compensation claims” by Taiwanese investors, he said.

“We have done our best and implemented the necessary measures to restore order and, we will continue to react to illegal actions in this way in the future,” he said, alluding to calls in Vietnam for a nationwide protest tomorrow.

The extent of damage caused to properties owned by Taiwanese investors was more serious compared with investors from other countries, but it was not because Taiwanese-owned firms were the target of the protesters, Bui said.

Asked why Taiwanese-owned businesses were attacked, he said: “It’s not because they [the protesters] could not distinguish between Taiwan and China, but that they were instigated [by some groups] and they acted in an irrational manner. There are lawbreakers in every society. They were not specifically targeting Taiwanese.”

Vietnamese are peace-loving people and are friendly toward Taiwan, Bui said.

“There are about 220,000 Vietnamese in Taiwan, married to Taiwanese, new immigrants, workers and college students. They love to work, study and live here,” he said.

Taiwan is the fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment in Vietnam, with total investments over the past 20 years reaching US$28 billion, while bilateral trade totaled US$12 billion, Bui said.

He refuted the allegation that the Vietnamese government had connived with its people to engage in violent behavior.

The government will assist businesses affected by the protests, help them resume operations as soon as possible and ensure peace and order in the country, he added.

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