*Update: In response to media queries on the protests at the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks I and II in Binh Duong Province, Vietnam, an MFA Spokesman said:
"MFA has been informed of the protests that have broken out at the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIP) I and II in Binh Duong and that a number of foreign companies have been broken into and set on fire. Singapore views this issue very seriously given our close economic cooperation with Vietnam. The Singapore Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City have separately requested the relevant Vietnamese authorities to restore order urgently.
"This morning, MFA called in the Vietnam Ambassador to Singapore to register its serious concerns about the security situation in VSIP I and II, and the attacks on foreign companies in the two industrial parks. MFA requests the Vietnamese government to act immediately to restore law and order in the two VSIPs before the security situation worsens and investor confidence is undermined."
The government of Singapore is monitoring the situation closely and so far there have not been any reports of Singaporeans affected by the demonstration. Singaporeans in Vietnam who require consular assistance can contact the Singapore Embassy in Hanoi, the Singapore Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City or the MFA 24-hour duty office at:
Embassy of the Republic of Singapore - Vietnam
No. 41 & 43, Tran Phu Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: 001-84-(4) 38489168 or 001-(84) 904696589 (24-hours)
Fax: 001-84-(4) 38489178
Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore - Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City)
The Saigon Centre, Level 8, 65 Le Loi Boulevard, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: 001-84-8-3822 5174 or 001 (84) 903 113 500 (24-hours)
Fax: 001-84-8-3914 2938
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours)
Tel: 6379 8800, 6379 8855
HANOI - Anti-China protesters set more than a dozen factories on fire in Vietnam, state media said Wednesday, in an escalating backlash against Beijing's deployment of an oil rig in contested waters.
Workers looted goods and attacked offices in a rare outburst of public unrest Tuesday in the authoritarian communist nation, which allowed mass anti-China rallies around Vietnam at the weekend.
The protesters targeted manufacturing companies that are owned or managed by Chinese as well as Chinese workers in Binh Duong province, the Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park said in a statement.
There were no reports of casualties.
Tens of thousands of workers poured onto the streets Tuesday and a small number of them began looting and attacking security guards and factory management before setting fire to at least 15 factories, the state-run VNExpress website reported.
Videos and images posted on dissident blogs showed thousands of workers, many waving the Vietnamese flag, destroying factory gates and pouring into compounds and causing widespread destruction of property.
A number of Taiwanese, Japanese and South Korean businesses have shut their plants for the day, giving workers the day off, and have hung Vietnamese flags outside their business in a bid to deter looters, VNExpress added.
Hanoi's Ministry of Public Security has deployed rapid-response riot police to the area to reinforce local security staff and prevent further unrest, VNExpress said.
"There will be serious punishment for those who abused the situation to instigate unrest," local official Tran Van Nam was quoted as saying.
Taiwan condemned the violence and said it had urged Vietnam to guarantee the safety of Taiwanese nationals in the area.
"We urge the Vietnamese people to exercise restraint and not to take violent and non-rational actions as this would affect Taiwanese businessmen's willingness to invest," Foreign Minister David Lin said.
Vietnamese police and officials contacted by AFP repeatedly refused to comment.
China and Vietnam are locked in long-standing territorial disputes in the South China Sea over the Paracel and Spratly islands, which both claim.
There have been repeated skirmishes near the oil rig in recent days involving vessels from the two countries, with collisions and the use of water cannon.
Vietnamese protesters staged multiple, large anti-China demonstrations Sunday with at least 1,000 people gathering in Hanoi and a similar-sized crowd in Ho Chi Minh City.
Experts say Vietnam's leadership has allowed some public protests to go ahead as a means of expressing extreme discontent with Beijing.