Protests against China escalated violently following the placement of an oil rig in waters near run-down factories owned by Taiwan. Vietnam’s government has ordered for the evacuation of the Chinese expedition rig from the waters adjoining the hostile Paracel Islands. Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, described the business move as “extremely dangerous.” Companies located in Vietnam belonging to Taiwan were forced to cease operations due to damage from protestors. 200 employees of said companies sought refuge in a hotel in Binh Duong.
The factories that have reported a “temporary closure” include: Yung Chi Paint & Varnish Manufacturing Co., Tainan Spinning Co., Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp., Kenda Rubber Industrial Co., Headway Advanced Materials Inc., Advanced International Multitech Co., and Kenda Rubber Industrial Co.. Murray Hiebert, a Washington-based senior representative of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, attributed the escalating protests against China to a history, spanning centuries, of the Chinese invading Vietnam. Therefore, it is in “their DNA” to be aggravated at the introduction of the oil rig. Hiebert also stated that the aggressive attitude promoted in Vietnam is “pretty dangerous” for the country. Stocks have been affected by the factory halts with Sanitar Co. losing 5 percent value of its share, and Tainan Spinning dropping 2.8 percent.
Police intervention developed as the anti-China protests escalated considerably. Police are holding approximately 500 individuals for questioning over impairment to the property located in Binh Duong. The deputy chief, Mai Cong Danh, reported that the situation is under control. According to Danh, the protestors are targeting the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park: specifically, those that have any affiliation with China or Chinese supported business. Representatives from Singapore have made their concerns for the protests known by urging the Vietnamese authorities to stabilize the conflict as quickly, effectively, and safely as possible.
The protests against the oil rig installed by China, escalated to a new threshold after protestors set fire to three factories in the middle of the night. The local authorities reported that there were no casualties from the fires. The protests initially began with about 20,000 Vietnamese involved in a relatively peaceful protest against the oil rig, but smaller groups of irritated males began to initiate more violent action against foreign owned company installations. The oil rig was deployed by Beijing on May 1st and now it sits in Vietnam’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone). China has been criticized for their negligence of the Vietnam’s EEZ, who instead are conforming to the “nine-dash line,” which is China’s concept of maritime borders, established by historical claims, not international law. The Associated Press reported that the Vietnamese government appears to be discreetly supporting the protest: citing eye witness claims of officials distributing signs to protesters which read, “We entirely trust the party, the government and the people’s army.” Political analysts are questioning the judgement of the protestors, due to China having an immense navy and economy when compared to Vietnam’s military and industrial prowess. The United States government has yet to announce any plans for intervention. The oil rig that initiated the protest is valued at $1 billion dollars.
By Andres Loubriel