Two Chinese were killed and about 140 other Chinese suffered injuries during worker riots this week triggered by violent people who had taken advantage of peaceful marches against China’s illegal placement of oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 in Vietnamese waters to cause the deadly unrest, according to Lieutenant General Hoang Kong Tu.
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The riots took place in several industrial parks on Tuesday and Wednesday in some localities, including the southern province of Binh Duong and the central province of Ha Tinh, where thousands of workers marched to protest the placement of the drilling rig.
These marches later turned violent and workers started attacking many companies including foreign-invested enterprises, damaging corporate assets, looting property, and even resisting police officers.
Many Taiwanese-owned companies had their factories ravaged during the unrest as rioters thought they were invested by mainland Chinese.
Vietnamese authorities have said that the riots were incited by thuggish individuals who disguised themselves as workers.
Lt. Gen. Tu confirmed the Chinese casualties during an international press conference organized by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry in Hanoi on Saturday. Lt. Gen. Tu is chief of the investigative police under the Ministry of Public Security.
Also at the conference, Assistant to the Foreign Minister Dang Minh Khoi affirmed that the Vietnamese government will take all effective measures to ensure public order and absolute safety for foreign agencies, investors, and nationals.
Haiyang Shiyou 981 has been placed at 15°29’58’’ North latitude and 111°12’06’’ East longitude in the East Vietnam Sea, within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, since May 1 despite protests from the Southeast Asian country.
* Is it accurate that some malefactors gave workers money to take park in marches against China’s oil rig deployment earlier this week?
Lt. Gen. Hoang Kong Tu: We are investigating it. We are yet to have the official information about that.
* Can you confirm the number of Chinese people who were killed and injured?
Lt. Gen. Hoang Kong Tu: At first, I would like to express my sympathy to foreign investors for what they suffered during the past days.
Specifically, two Chinese people were unfortunately killed and about 140 other Chinese sustained injuries. When these incidents happened, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Security immediately instructed relevant authorities to minimize the consequences and damage brought about by the violence as well as to timely take the injured people to hospital for medical care.
* How many people have been nabbed? How many illegal Chinese laborers are there in Vietnam?
Lt. Gen. Hoang Kong Tu: So far more than 300 people have been charged with “stealing assets,” “destroying property,” “causing public disorder,” and “resisting on-duty officers.” The lawbreakers will be prosecuted and receive strict punishment in line with the law.
Yes, there are illegal foreign laborers in Vietnam. Vietnamese authorities have found and deported such illegal workers. We are verifying if there are more.
*Does any of the arrestees face murder charges? Many people have criticized the government for slow response to the riots, leading to unfortunate consequences. What is the viewpoint of Vietnam?
Lt. Gen. Hoang Kong Tu: According to investigators, the two Chinese were killed because they were involved in brawls with workers and some aggressive people. The deaths were unwanted.
When the incidents occurred, local authorities took necessary measures and hospital staff tried to save the two Chinese but failed. We are hunting for the murderer(s) to bring them to justice.
Regarding the second question, as I said earlier, we are always active, not passive or tardy.
* What will Vietnam do to assure Taiwanese-owned companies of their safety when they resume their business activities in the coming time?
Dang Minh Khoi: We are really sorry for the past incidents during which many foreign-invested enterprises, including Taiwanese-owned firms, suffered from certain damage. We do believe that the Vietnamese government and local authorities will provide them with sufficient support.
Khoi also rejected a recent report in which The New York Times quoted an anonymous senior diplomat as saying that Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong “had offered to visit Beijing to speak with President Xi Jinping, but the overture had been rejected.”
“I confirm that the information is absolutely false. Vietnam and China yearly communicate with each other through high-level visits and diplomatic means but I have heard nothing about any visit to China from Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong this year,” Khoi said.