The Vietnam arm of German pharmaceutical giant Bayer may be facing punishment for an internally-circulated document containing an image printed with China’s illegal ‘nine-dash line’, according to inspectors from Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Information and Communications.
The document in question, titled ‘COVID-19 — Lessons from China,’ was sent by Bayer Vietnam’s general director to the company’s department heads via email last month to support its employees’ efforts in aiding medical communities across Asia.
Problems arose when the document was found to contain a map of China which included the infamous ‘nine-dash line,’ a demarcation line used by China to represent its illegal claims in the East Vietnam Sea that violate Vietnam’s sovereignty.
“After realizing the issue we immediately recalled the document and took necessary steps to avoid forwarding the information,” said a representative of Bayer Vietnam.
The representative also stated that the document had only been shared to a group of nine employees, not 1,000 people as previously reported.
According to the representative, the German pharmaceutical company has always been in compliance with Vietnam’s laws and regulations.
It has also held the utmost respect for its employees, customers, and the local community throughout the 25 years it’s been operating in the Southeast Asian country.
On Wednesday, inspectors from the Department of Information and Communications of Ho Chi Minh City reasserted that the circulation of maps containing the nine-dash line is a violation of Vietnamese law.
The inspectors said that they had sent a summons to Bayer Vietnam for a meeting to be held this week with the company’s representatives regarding the issue.
“The form and extent of penalties will be decided after the meeting with Bayer Vietnam’s representative,” an inspector said.
The ‘nine-dash line’ is an arbitrary demarcation line used on Chinese maps to illustrate Beijing’s illegal and unilaterally declared claims to vast expanses of the East Vietnam Sea, including large swathes of Vietnam’s Continental Shelf.
Bayer AG is a German multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company operating in the fields of healthcare and agriculture.
Bayer Vietnam, which currently has about 700 employees, has been present in the country since 1994, according to a declaration on its website.