BEIJING (TIP): At least 21 people are feared to have been killed and over 129 injured since anti-China demonstrations led to burning of factories in Vietnam since May 13. There was no confirmation that the violence had ceased on Thursday.
Cambodian police said Chinese workers were fleeing Vietnam and entering Cambodia. China’s official Xinhua news agency said two Chinese nationals had been killed and 100 injured. It said 10 other Chinese workers were missing. Over half of the wounded worked for a Chinese company. Reports from Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province quoted a hospital putting the death toll at 21 and said a major steel mill was set ablaze there. Five of the dead were Vietnamese and 16 were Chinese.
The number of injuries may be larger because one of the affected companies, Formosa Plastics, said its 90 workers were wounded during ire at its upcoming plant. Local authorities said at least 40 policemen were injured while trying to stop the rioters. Vietnamese workers went on a strike and later torched several factories amid anger over a Chinese company’s attempts to establish an oil rig in a disputed portion of the South China Sea.
Both countries claim sovereignty over the area. This is the worst breakdown in cross-border relations since China and Vietnam fought a brief border war in 1979. The anti-China protests have spread to 22 Vietnamese provinces. In Beijing, officials said China’s vessels have been sent to the concerned area in the South China Sea to protect the rig and the country’s citizens.
“There is no reason for Vietnam to object to it because the area rightfully belongs to China,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.