Sat, May 17, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Businesses mull pullout if Vietnam protests escalate

Staff writer, with CNA

Internet users in Vietnam are planning anti-China marches nationwide tomorrow, sparking concern that they could lead to another round of violent protests targeting Chinese, Taiwanese and other foreign-owned businesses.

After rioting left more than 20 people dead as of Thursday, several Taiwanese businesspeople said they will “certainly” withdraw from Vietnam if the demonstrations cause more riots.

The call for a new round of protests over Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in waters claimed by Taiwan, China and Vietnam came on social media Web sites, including Facebook.

Taiwan’s representative offices in Ho Chi Minh City, near the center of Tuesday’s riots, and in Hanoi, the capital, said they had conveyed their concerns to the relevant local agencies.

Vietnamese authorities responded by saying that they would not agree to the demonstrations. The Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security said that if protesters insist on going ahead with the marches, it will strengthen patrols to maintain order.

Rioting over the past two days had many Taiwanese firms considering pulling the plug on their investments in Vietnam. Industry insiders estimate that as many as half of the businesses could leave Vietnam if things escalate tomorrow.

“I wouldn’t believe there were really rioters and bandits if I didn’t see it for myself,” said Tsai Chuan-yi (蔡川義), a Taiwanese expatriate working in Vietnam, who returned to his hometown in Miaoli on Thursday.

Tsai said he was considering withdrawing his investments from the Southeast Asian country.

Tsai said a number of Vietnamese protesters had demanded that he stop work at his garment factory in Binh Duong Province on Tuesday afternoon. They were accompanied by a gang of motorcyclists who forced their way in, damaged the facility’s security room and smashed windows.

Between 5pm and 11pm, eight mobs of more than 1,000 people each showed up at the factory, Tsai said.

He said it would probably cost NT$1 million (US$33,100) to repair the damage, but the work stoppage would cause even greater financial losses.

“This may be the key issue of concern,” he said.

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