Big clean-up in Viet industrial parks after riots

Big clean-up in Viet industrial parks after riots
Damage at a building in Vietnam belonging to Taiwanese company Zeng Hsing. Anti-China protesters earlier indiscriminately targeted firms with Chinese names amid tensions between Vietnam and China over territorial claims.

Workers armed with brooms and driving fork lifts are busy cleaning up dozens of offices and factories in two Vietnam-Singapore industrial parks (VSIPs) about an hour north of Ho Chi Minh City, after anti-China crowds rampaged through them.

The smell of smoke hung in the air at factories partially burnt after they were torched by the crowd, which indiscriminately targeted businesses with Chinese names on Tuesday evening. Shattered glass carpeted offices and forecourts. Computers lay smashed in parking lots. At one factory, two vehicles had been overturned and gutted by fire.

Almost every factory has hung banners over its gate and walls supporting Vietnam's sovereignty claim over islands in the South China Sea, where China's placement of an oil rig on May 2 sparked anger in Vietnam and skirmishes at sea between Chinese and Vietnamese Coast Guard vessels.

Japanese, South Korean, German and Swiss investors are among the non-Chinese who have taken pains to display their national flags to distance themselves from the mob's Chinese targets. Taiwanese investors, who bore the brunt of the rampage, have hung similar banners supporting Vietnam's claims to sovereignty over the waters contested by China.

Factories not in the VSIPs or related to them were also targeted. At these locations, workers were slowly trickling back to their jobs after fleeing them on Tuesday. In Dong Nai province, Mr Chen Di, a 36-year-old from China who has worked for an American-owned furniture maker for more than a year, returned to work with eight other Chinese and two Taiwanese colleagues. The small group, a minority among 300 Vietnamese workers at the factory, had been put up at a Ho Chi Minh City hotel by their bosses since Wednesday to escape the anti-China violence.

Around 80 per cent of the factories in the industrial zone where he worked had been burned or damaged, Mr Chen told The Straits Times.

"But now it is quiet. There are a lot of police outside but no demonstrators," he said. "We are friendly with the Vietnamese workers, we usually eat and drink beer together. If the mob had attacked our factory, I think the Vietnamese workers would have hidden us or tried to keep us out of harm's way."

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