Does China feel closer to the Vietnamese?

Vietnam: Burning factories against China's expansion


Read on one side

It started Tuesday evening in the very south of Vietnam: Thousands of local workers had set fire to foreign companies during anti-Chinese protests that they believed were run by Chinese. Hundreds more were looted. More than 400 demonstrators were arrested, according to the police, a total of 19,000 are said to have taken to the streets. On Thursday night, rioters stormed the country's largest steel factory in central Vietnam in the Ha Tinh province - it is owned by Taiwan. There are said to have been numerous seriously injured, four Chinese workers died. Many Chinese are now fleeing the country.

On Tuesday, some companies were affected by the riots, which, according to the authorities, are South Korean or Taiwanese companies. "People thought Taiwan was part of China," said a Vietnamese police spokesman. "When they were told that Taiwan was different from China, they stopped." The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry advised its Vietnam-based companies to hang signs reading "Taiwan" on their factories so that employees would not be mistaken for Chinese, Taiwanese news agency Central News Agency reported.

The triggers of the aggression against companies from the People's Republic are the territorial conflicts in the Western Pacific: China, as an emerging power in the region, is fighting with neighbors over marine areas rich in natural resources. Meanwhile, things are getting a bit tougher. Beijing's two current opponents are Vietnam and the Philippines in the dispute over areas of the Paracelsus and Spratly Islands.

Reclaiming land in the Spratly archipelago

On May 1, Beijing had an oil platform set up near the Paracelsus Islands. Since then, there have been repeated sharper skirmishes between ships from China and Vietnam around this oil rig.

In the already latently tense mood between Beijing and its Pacific riparian states, the territorial disputes with the Philippines have risen again at the same time. The current issue is the Johnson South Reef in the Spratly archipelago. Construction work for an airstrip is currently being carried out there, said the Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario on Wednesday. In the past few weeks, China has brought machines and soil there to reclaim new land.

The Philippines refer to the reef as part of their Palawan Province. The spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, replied that the Johnson South Reef was part of Chinese territory. "Carrying out construction work on the affected reef falls under China's sovereign rights," she said in Beijing. A real base there is unlikely, says military analyst Richard Bitzinger from Singapore, but politically it is a signal to set up a runway there.

It was only at the beginning of May that the Philippines landed a Chinese fishing boat in controversial waters and arrested eleven fishermen. Despite all warnings from China, nine of them were charged on Monday. The state newspaper China Daily warned Tuesday that Manila must know that it would pay an "unaffordable price" if it continued to side with "anti-Chinese forces".