Vietnamese police yesterday detained scores of people as they broke up a protest against a Taiwanese company accused of being behind a toxic leak that has caused mass fish deaths off the central coast.
The protest in Hanoi — which follows a similar demonstration last weekend — was swiftly dispersed by authorities yesterday morning, a reporter witnessed, in a communist country where all shows of dissent are tightly controlled.
Several hundred demonstrators had gathered in the heart of the capital outraged at the poisoning of waters near Ha Tinh Province that has left tonnes of fish and clams dead and devastated the local fishing industry, accusing Formosa Plastics (台塑) of overseeing a toxic leak at its US$10.6 billion coastal steel plant.
“Never has the Vietnamese sea been this badly polluted,” army veteran Nguyen Manh Trung, 68, told reporters.
However, “the police are now more and more professional in breaking up protests,” he added of the scores of people taken away in unmarked cars.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has vowed to get tough on those responsible for the leak, but an official inquiry has yet to apportion blame.
However, state-run media pointed the finger at a 1.5km wastewater pipeline from Formosa’s steel plant into the ocean.
The company has a bad record of environmental scandals around the globe. However, it has not formally been linked to the mass fish poisoning.
As the scandal unfolded last month, a Formosa communications official was sacked after he said Vietnam needs “to choose whether to catch fish and shrimp or to build a state-of-the-art steel mill.”
“You cannot have both,” the official said.
The company later apologized for the comments and has launched its own inquiry, but public anger is snowballing.
Vietnam’s central provinces are heavily dependent on seafood, including farmed shrimp, catfish and wild-caught tuna.
Last year the country generated US$6.6 billion from seafood exports.
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit
‘SIGNAL TO ALLIES’: The US Navy’s exercises are not in response to those carried out by China, the commander of the strike group led by the USS ‘Ronald Reagan’ said Two US aircraft carriers were yesterday conducting exercises in the disputed South China Sea, the US Navy said as China also carried out military drills that have been criticized by the US Department of Defense and neighboring states. China and the US have accused each other of stoking tension in the waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from COVID-19 to trade to Hong Kong. The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan were carrying out operations and exercises in the South China Sea “to support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the navy said in a statement. It did not say exactly