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Myanmar's changing ties with China

Chinese factory in Myanmar ransacked by hundreds of angry workers

Employees angered after colleague was sacked at the plant in Yangon, according to local newspaper report

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2017, 4:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2017, 4:33pm

Hundreds of workers in Myanmar attacked a Chinese garment factory in Yangon, destroying equipment and briefly detaining seven Chinese workers on Thursday, the official China News Service reported.

The attack on the factory was carried out by staff angered by the sacking of a colleague, according to a local newspaper report.

The seven Chinese “captives” were released after a rescue effort staged by the Chinese embassy and local police, the Chinese embassy in Yangon said in a statement.

Five people who played a leading role in the attack were arrested, the statement added. No casualties were reported.

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The Chinese embassy said in a separate statement that it had lodged a formal request to the Myanmar government asking the authorities to take effective measures to ensure “the safety and interests of Chinese business and individuals”.

The attack is the latest major security incident linked to Chinese investment in Myanmar.

Myanmar has traditionally been a close ally of China, but there are increasing signs of anti-China sentiment in the Southeast Asian nation.

A wave of labour strikes have hit Chinese and South Korean factories over the past two years, with workers demanding pay rises and shorter working hours.

The factory attacked in Yangon was run by Hangzhou Hundred-Tex Garment (Myanmar) Co, which employs 500 local workers and 10 Chinese managers, according to the Myanmar Golden Phoenix newspaper.

The company is based in Zhejiang province in China and it set up a factory in Myanmar two years ago to take advantage of lower labour costs, the newspaper said.

A Chinese manager was quoted as saying that about 300 local workers rushed into the factory compound on Thursday morning and started to smash windows, doors and other equipment.

A worker sacked at the factory had called on employees to strike and then raid the factory, according to the article.

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Chinese investment plans in Myanmar have faced increasing opposition, including the shelving of plans to build a huge dam on the Irrawaddy River.

The construction of an oil pipeline in the country has also met resistance.

China was a key trading partner with Myanmar when the country was under military rule and faced international sanctions.

The country is attempting to open up its economy to international investment after it held democratic elections two years ago.