Just 14 factories targeted in Vietnam's anti-China protests belonged to mainland Chinese

Of 351 plants damaged in one province, just 14 are mainland Chinese-owned, official report says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 11:36pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 May, 2014, 9:16am

Only a tiny fraction of the factories looted and damaged in the violent anti-China protests in Vietnam last week were owned by mainland Chinese enterprises, according to an internal Vietnamese official survey seen by the South China Morning Post.

Taiwanese businesses bore the brunt of the two-day frenzy of arson, vandalism and theft as initially peaceful protests triggered by Beijing's move to drill oil in disputed waters off the Paracel Islands ran out of control.

Some 351 factories suffered various degrees of damage in Binh Duong province - the epicentre of the unrest in Vietnam's south.

Watch: Thousands Chinese evacuated from Vietnam after anti-China riots

Of these, more than 190 were Taiwanese. At least 27 Vietnamese and 19 South Korean factories were also ransacked.

In comparison, only 14 factories owned by mainland Chinese companies were attacked. Eight Hong Kong-run factories were damaged. One was torched, while another one lost six cars and some computers, according to the internal survey provisionally compiled last Thursday by the provincial government.

While the survey was limited to Binh Duong province it gives a general idea of the impact of the protests, which hit 22 provinces.

Binh Duong authorities estimate that more than 111,000 workers have been temporarily put out of work because of the riots, with many foreign investors saying they may not return. Only 1 per cent of these workers were employed by mainland Chinese companies.

Some in Vietnam are starting to worry that the protests may have done more damage to Vietnam than to China, which has used the opportunity to seize the moral high ground.

"It's not in our interest to damage our image in the world and kill foreigners," said a university lecturer based in Ho Chi Minh City who refused to be named.

Beijing yesterday evacuated another 2,000 Chinese citizens from Vietnam by sea, with two more ships still on the way.


HK firms shutting Vietnam plants after riots

Hong Kong investors in Vietnam have either decided to withdraw their business from the country or are considering doing so after the anti-China protests, according to businessman and lawmaker Felix Chung Kwok-pan.

Chung, the lawmaker representing the textiles and garment sector, said he had talked to around 10 Hong Kong businessmen who have textile factories in Vietnam after the protests.

"Two of them said they were definitely withdrawing because it's just too dangerous. And it's not that the rest of them do not want to leave, but they will need some time to see how the situation unfolds," he said.

He had heard that some Vietnamese were frustrated that Chinese occupied senior positions in many companies there.

Many other Vietnamese were dissatisfied by the long working hours and poor working conditions in Chinese factories, he said.

Rioting broke out last week, sparked by anger over China drilling for oil in a disputed area in the South China Sea.

Chung said the two businesses which had decided to withdraw from the country were located in Binh Duong province, the epicentre of the riots. Some 22 provinces were affected.

Another textile company, which is listed in Hong Kong, has already invested US$300 million in Vietnam and originally planned to invest US$100 million more. But Chung said the company was putting that plan on hold to see how the situation unfolded.

Stanley Lau Chin-ho, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, estimated there were about 100 Hong Kong factories in Vietnam, many of which produce garments or electronic goods.

Lau denied allegations that Vietnamese workers had a limited chance of promotion to top jobs if they worked at Chinese factories.

"My understanding is that many Hong Kong businessmen are not usually based in Vietnam and they hire locals to help manage their factories," Lau said.

He said it was too early to say whether Hong Kong businessmen would pull out of Vietnam.

"For the near term, if their factories were damaged in the riots, they could not start operating again very soon.

"Production would certainly be put on hold for some time," he said.

Phila Siu and Ng Kang-chung