United Daily News: Negotiate seriously with Vietnam over riot losses
Central News Agency
2014-05-18 03:32 PM
Taiwanese citizens and businesses have incurred losses and damage due to deadly anti-China riots raging on since May 13 in Vietnam set off by a territorial conflict between Hanoi and Beijing. The government's response has been slow, but is otherwise appropriate. However, a standard operating procedure of alert and management mechanism needs to be established for handling future emergencies. The Vietnamese government has allowed the local nationalistic and patriotic anti-China protesters to vent their fury, and thus, it should take responsibility for the losses suffered by foreign-invested enterprises of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan in the riots. Violent protest, much less looting, burning, damaging, and killing is unacceptable in any civilized society. The Vietnamese administration needs to realize that allowing such acts of violence will intimidate foreign investors, dwindle away investments, and thus will have to bear significant costs. According to official statistics, 2,300 Taiwanese enterprises have invested in Vietnam. In combination with those investing via a third country, 4,000 companies have invested nearly US$60 billion, which makes Taiwan the top investor in Vietnam, ahead of Japan. About 1,000 Taiwanese companies have set up factories in Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces, the worst hit areas in the anti-China riots in southern Vietnam. Almost 200 Taiwanese enterprises were looted and damaged, and almost all Taiwanese factories have halted production. Taiwan must negotiate with the Vietnamese government within two weeks regarding compensation for the losses suffered by Taiwanese-invested companies during the riots, in accordance with an investment and protection agreement signed by the two countries in 1993. Such negotiations will normally last 3 to 6 months, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) stated on Friday. If the talks failed to yield results, Taiwan will turn to international arbitration, the ministry added. We back the negotiations proposal by Ma administration and supports overseas Taiwanese enterprises. However, the Ma administration needs to work on two areas. Firstly, the alert system of Taiwan's de facto embassy in Vietnam did not seem to function optimally and had to be reviewed, even when there were signs before the anti-China riots. Secondly, Ma called for a meeting of the National Security Council on Wednesday evening, more than a day after the riots turned violent. If the meeting had been called sooner, then airplanes sent for evacuating the expatriates would take off earlier. The government should help enterprises in evaluating the political risks of investment and set up a standard operating procedure for assisting citizens residing abroad during emergencies and take heed of the lesson learnt from the riots. (Editorial abstract - May 18, 2014) (By Kuo Chung-han)
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