Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-05-16 04:01 PM
After China set up an oil rig in disputed waters off Vietnam, looters in the latter country’s southern provinces attacked citizens and factories from several Asian countries, with Taiwan apparently bearing the brunt. The riots led to widespread destruction of Taiwanese-owned businesses and to the flight of hundreds of Taiwanese citizens. There were fears that online calls for more anti-China protests on May 18 would result in more looting.
Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo, who heads a special Cabinet taskforce on the issue, demanded that the Vietnamese government use sufficient numbers of military and police to guarantee Taiwanese citizens’ safety. Business people returning to Taiwan on special flights early Friday morning said they had to bribe police for safe passage out of the hotel and that police only put on a show of force for the benefit of the international media.
The Vietnamese government should make sure that violent incidents did not occur again, Mao said. Apparently in response to those fears, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. gave its staff in the country three days off beginning Saturday, reports said.
The vice premier emphasized that Taiwan would seek compensation for the businesses and individuals who suffered losses during the violence. His words were backed up by a bipartisan motion at the Legislative Yuan calling on the Cabinet to take immediate action on the compensation issue. Some business leaders have voiced doubts about the likelihood of payments because of the absence of formal diplomatic relations and because of the Vietnamese government’s communist nature.
Foreign Minister David Lin lent his support to the demands for compensation at a joint news conference Friday afternoon. The Vietnamese government needs to offer Taiwan an official apology, punish those responsible for the violence and compensate Taiwanese for the damage and harm they suffered, Lin said.
The minister said the two countries should talk under the framework of the existing mutual investment protection agreement, while the Ministry of Economic Affairs would send a delegation to begin negotiations about compensation.
Vietnamese representative in Taipei Bui Trong Van, who was also present at the MOFA news conference, reportedly offered a personal apology to the business people affected by the violence, but he left the event when questions from reporters turned to compensation payments.
Lin had summoned him to the ministry during the morning to relay Taiwan’s grave concern about the violence. The ministry came under fire Thursday for a plan to distribute 20,000 stickers to Taiwanese in Vietnam with Vietnamese and English-language texts emphasizing the wearer hailed from Taiwan. The stickers were unlikely to stop attackers, critics said.
Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch said he would relate Taiwan’s concerns to his Vietnamese counterpart during an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in the Chinese city of Qingdao beginning Saturday.
During the violence which started on May 13, more than 100 Taiwanese factories had been damaged and about a dozen set on fire, including a steel plant owned by the powerful Formosa Plastics Group. Other plants and schools suspended operations, with business people seeking refuge in hotels and trying to leave the country.
Out of 2,099 Taiwanese tourists planning to visit Vietnam before the end of the month, 328 had cancelled their trip, travel industry sources said. At present, 765 Taiwanese were still traveling around the communist country, but most were staying in the northern part, while the violence struck southern provinces close to Ho Chi Minh City.
A total of 5,760 Taiwanese citizens had returned to Taiwan since the violence started earlier in the week, the Ministry of Interior announced Friday. More than 20 of them had lost their passports, but had obtained special temporary documents free of charge which allowed them to board flights home, reports said. National Immigration Agency officials were working at both ends, in Taiwan and in Vietnam, to facilitate the return of the Taiwanese citizens, the MOI said. NIA employees were manning a special desk at Ho Chi Minh City’s airport and were also moving inland to eight areas hit by violence.