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Sancho Panza

China Dispute With Vietnam Escalates As Rioters Torch Foreign-Owned Factories

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i 15/5/14

'Mobs of rioters in Vietnam torched at least 15 foreign-owned factories and trashed or looted many more following a large protest by workers against China's recent placement of an oil rig in disputed Southeast Asian waters, officials said Wednesday.

The unrest late Tuesday at a Singapore-run industrial park and others nearby in Binh Duong province followed protests by up to 20,000 workers. Smaller groups attacked factories they believed were Chinese-run, but many were Taiwanese or South Korean, the provincial government said in a statement.

The government said the protests were initially peaceful but were hijacked by “extremists” who incited people to break into the factories. It said at least 15 factories were set alight and “hundreds” more vandalised or looted, and that some security guards and unidentified “foreign experts” were assaulted.

China's Foreign Ministry and its embassy in Hanoi issued warnings to Chinese citizens. The embassy's website said it sees no end to attacks by what it called anti-China forces and urged Chinese to take safety precautions and avoid unnecessary travel.

There are economic stakes for both countries if the standoff and tensions continue.

China is Vietnam's biggest trading partner, exporting billions of dollars of materials each year for factories producing goods including clothes, shoes and smartphones as well as cheap consumer goods. Beijing is also becoming an important investor in the country. In 2013 it invested $2.3 billion, a sharp rise from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.'

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