Vietnamese workers protest and torch foreign factories over Chinese sea claims

Vietnamese protest

Anti-China mobs have torched up to 15 foreign-owned factories and trashed many more in southern Vietnam, according to officials and state media, amid rising anger over China’s recent instalment of an oil rig in a disputed part of the South China Sea.

Separately the Philippines has protested to Beijing about China carrying out land reclamation on a reef in the Spratly Islands. Manila says the Chinese are making preparations to build an airstrip or offshore military base, violating a regional non-agression pact.

People gather around firefighters working at the main entrance of Tan Than Industries as the Taiwanese bicycle factory burns in Di An Town, Binh Duong province, Vietnam, Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In Vietnam the unrest at the industrial parks is the country’s most serious outbreak of public disorder in years. It began late on Tuesday at a Singapore-run facility and spread to other complexes in Binh Duong province. Up to 20,000 workers became involved in attacking factories they believed were Chinese-run, though some were Taiwanese or South Korean, the VnExpress website said, quoting Tran Van Nam, the deputy head of the province’s people’s committee.

On Wednesday morning groups of men on motorbikes remained on the streets and all the factories in the area were closed, said one park manager, who declined to give his name. Riot police had been stationed around the area.