The Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) yesterday warned Taiwanese businesses operating in Myanmar of the highly risky situation in the nation after a Taiwanese company was damaged in a fire amid protests against a military coup on Feb. 1, while the nation’s representative office in Myanmar advised Taiwanese firms to fly the national flag at their premises.
Dozens of protesters were on Sunday killed by the Burmese military in Hlaingthaya Township in the nation’s largest city, Yangon, and several factories were burned down and ransacked, including one run by a Taiwanese company.
After the industrial area had been put under martial law by the military junta the previous night, a Chinese garment factory owned by Global Fashion (全球時尚) and a Taiwanese shoe-making factory owned by Tsang Yih were allegedly set on fire, with the cause being investigated by the authorities, magazine The Irrawaddy reported.
“According to information received by the OCAC a day earlier, the situation there has deteriorated, and some Taiwanese businesses have been affected,” OCAC Minister Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) told reporters before giving a report at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
Tung urged Taiwanese businesses in the area to remain on high alert and to swiftly contact the nation’s representative office when necessary.
Asked whether the government would arrange charter flights to bring Taiwanese back from Myanmar, he said the OCAC would provide all necessary assistance, but that a final decision would be made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The nation’s representative office in Myanmar had earlier advised Taiwanese companies to fly the national flag and hang signs stating that they are Taiwanese to avoid being confused with Chinese businesses.
The office “suggested Taiwanese businesspeople hang signs in Burmese reading ‘Taiwanese company’ at their factories and to hang our country’s national flag, and explain to local workers and neighbors that they are a Taiwanese factory.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that only one Taiwanese company was caught up in the violence, with 10 Taiwanese trapped inside the premises, although they were safe.
Taiwanese firms in Southeast Asia have previously been confused for Chinese companies during protests, including in 2014 when thousands of Vietnamese set fire to foreign factories in an angry reaction to Chinese oil drilling in a part of the South China Sea claimed by Hanoi.
Separately yesterday, Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Thomas Huang (黃天牧) told reporters that Taiwanese banks in Myanmar were operating as normal.
Three local banks have branches in the nation — Cathay United Bank (國泰世華銀行), Mega International Commercial Bank (兆豐銀行) and E.Sun Commercial Bank (玉山銀行).
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