30,000 joined Vietnam riots: witnesses

By Yang Ye in Hanoi Source:Global Times Published: 2014-5-20 1:13:01

Despite the fact that the Vietnamese foreign ministry said some 19,000 protesters participated in the recent riots in southern Vietnam's Binh Duong Province, witnesses told the Global Times the actual number had reached 30,000.

As of Monday, the week-long protests-turned-riots which burned down factories and killed at least two Chinese have temporarily died down.

However, Chinese nationals who have not left the region told the Global Times that the traumatic influence remains. They were told to stay at home as some anti-China protesters vowed to continue attacking Chinese people if they find them. Some said they would avoid speaking Chinese if they have to leave the house.

Riots in Vietnam's Binh Duong Province first broke out on May 12, a day after a large-scale anti-China protest took place in Vietnam's capital Hanoi. By May 13, the protest had grown so violent that protesters began to attack local Chinese enterprises.

Witnesses told the Global Times that mobs broke into local Chinese factories, beating Chinese nationals, looting goods and valuables, smashing furniture and appliances in the offices and dormitories before setting fire to the buildings.

On May 13, a mob broke into a local Chinese factory and forced workers to stop working and join the protest. A Chinese manager at the scene told the Global Times he was "too afraid to stop the thugs."

Rioters first attacked enterprises with Chinese-language signs hanging on the wall. As the riots raged on, they began to attack smaller businesses such as Chinese restaurants.

"The attacks came in waves that day, one group of thugs just left, another round came again," Wu Meilin, deputy general manager of United Aluminium, told the Global Times. She and other employees had to hide in a locked office, and later fled to the safety of Ho Chi Minh City.

Guan Hongwei, director of the Vietnam office of the Hong Kong-based China Merchants Group, told the Global Times that many Chinese businessmen in Binh Duong had flown back to China right away on May 13.

"They could do nothing but leave when the factories were smashed and looted and facing serious safety threats," said Guan.

Several employees of Chinese companies reached by the Global Times were still in shock.

They described Binh Duong as a "land beyond the law" on May 13, when mobs rampaged in the industrial zones, hurling insults and beating Chinese nationals.

The employees said more and more people lost themselves to the violent emotions, and there was no police intervention.

Many Chinese businesspeople in Binh Duong fled for their lives. Some bought flight tickets and left the next morning. Some sought asylum from friends in Ho Chi Minh City. Others, including many ordinary Chinese employees, tried to flee the country through the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.

As the riot spread to central Vietnam's Ha Tinh Province in the following days, protesters grew even more violent.

On the afternoon of May 14, young rioters broke into a steel plant owned by a Taiwan company in Ha Tinh Province. The fire set by the rioters burned down the factory and was only put out after midnight. Two employees from the Chinese mainland were confirmed dead during the riot. The victims suffered severe beatings and their bodies were left to burn in the fire.

Official statistics from Vietnam said some 400 factories were damaged and another 1,100 were forced to shut down. Violence has grown so out of control that the looting and arson also affected South Korean, Japanese and Singaporean factories. 

To the shock of the Global Times reporter, many Vietnamese seemed to purposely avoid talking about the pain the protestors had inflicted upon the Chinese nationals. Some locals approached by the Global Times justified the violence by insisting that a Chinese oil company's launch of an oil rig in the waters of the Xisha Islands has "violated" their rights.

Newspaper headline: Protesters vow to continue attacking Chinese

Posted in: Society, Asia-Pacific

blog comments powered by Disqus