Sun, Jun 28, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan on alert as tensions between China, Vietnam rise

By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The government is on alert as tensions between China and Vietnam are again on the rise due to Beijing’s unilateral decision to resume the installation of oil rigs in the South China Sea, officials said yesterday.

Taiwanese businesses with investments in Vietnam are afraid of a repeat of the anti-China riots in May last year, officials said.

Riots broke out when China moved the Haiyang Shiyou 981 near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) in May last year, which the Vietnamese government protested as a violation of Vietnamese territorial claims, while China said the move was legal as the islands were under its military control.

Many Taiwanese businesses in Vietnam suffered break-ins and robberies, as well as arson due to anti-Chinese sentiment.

Taiwan also claims sovereignty of the Paracel Islands in the dispute over maritime boundaries and territories in the South China Sea.

According to a report on Huanqiu.com yesterday, which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily, the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration announced on Thursday that from now until Aug. 20 it would be deploying oil rigs in the South China Sea.

The announcement was accompanied by a demand for unrelated ships to maintain a distance of 2km from the oil rigs.

The Haiyang Shiyou 981 is to be deployed to 17o 3.75 minutes north latitude and 109o 59.05 minutes east longitude, according to the administration’s Web site on Thursday.

Taiwanese officials said the location is southeast of the Chinese city of Sanya in Hainan Province and east of the Vietnamese city of Hue, adding that it was slightly northwest of the location that caused last year’s riots.

The officials said they expect the announcement to cause a strong reaction in Vietnam, and due to concerns for citizens abroad as well as the potential impacts to Taiwanese claims in the region, the government has ordered all foreign ministry officials to be on standby in the event of protests.

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