Anti-China protesters set factories on fire in Vietnam

Anti-China protesters march during a rally in Ho Chi Minh city.

Anti-China protesters march while shouting slogans during a rally in downtown Ho Chi Minh city on 11 May 2014. File Photo/AFP/Getty Images/Le Quang Nhat


HANOI, Vietnam, 14 May 2014

Anti-China protesters went on the rampage at an industrial park in southern Vietnam, attacking offices and setting several Chinese factories on fire, authorities said Wednesday.

The unrest — highly unusual in authoritarian Vietnam — erupted on Tuesday as thousands of workers staged a walk-out to protest Beijing’s deployment of an oil drilling rig in contested waters.

The protesters targeted manufacturing companies that are owned or managed by Chinese, setting three factories on fire, the Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park said in a statement.

There were no reports of casualties.

Reports on Vietnamese social media sites and dissident blogs suggested that the violence had been widespread with some reports suggesting that up to a dozen factories were set ablaze.

Vietnamese police and officials contacted by AFP repeatedly refused to comment.

China and Vietnam are locked in long-standing territorial disputes in the South China Sea over the Paracel and Spratly islands, which both claim.

There have been repeated skirmishes near the oil rig in recent days involving vessels from the two countries, with collisions and the use of water cannon.

Vietnamese protesters staged multiple, large anti-China demonstrations Sunday with at least 1,000 people gathering in Hanoi and a similar-sized crowd in Ho Chi Minh City.

Experts say Vietnam’s leadership has allowed some public protests to go ahead as a means of expressing extreme discontent with Beijing.

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