Chinese flee Vietnam after rig dispute spurs violence
China is withdrawing its citizens from Vietnam, following last week’s clashes and riots which saw several foreign factories torched by Vietnamese workers protesting against CNOOC’s deployment of an offshore rig in the contested area of the South China Sea.
Starting from May 17, the Chinese side has organized chartered planes and ships to Vietnam to bring back Chinese citizens. A chartered plane with medical facilities onboard and China Southern Airlines flights have taken back 307 people affected in the violent acts in Ha Tinh province, including all those injured.
Four ferries namely Wuzhishan, Tongguling, Zijing 12 and Baishiling under the coordination of the transportation authorities were to pick up around 4,000 Chinese citizens at Vung Ang port of Ha Tinh province yesterday. The four ferries all arrived at the port yesterday to pick up Chinese citizens.
During this period of time, the cross-sectoral working group sent by the Chinese government and Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in Vietnam have made proactive efforts in Hanoi, Ha Tinh and other places to ensure that Chinese citizens come back home safe and sound, a press release on the China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website
Some Chinese citizens headed to Cambodia in recent days to seek safety.
“China appreciates the Cambodian side for offering convenience and assistance to those Chinese citizens. The Chinese embassy in Cambodia also attends to them,” the ministry said in the release.
China has raised the level of its travel warning for Chinese citizens to go to Vietnam, advising them not to go there for the time being and has suspended some of the bilateral exchange plans. China said it would consider taking further steps depending on how the situation plays out.
Vietnam: Situation stable
In a statement made on Saturday, May 17, Vietnam Foreign Affairs Ministry said the situation in provinces where the incidents occurred is now stabilized and under control.
“The safety, life and property of foreigners are guaranteed. Almost all Vietnamese and foreign enterprises have returned to normal production and business,” Dang Minh Khoi, Foreign Minister’s Assistant said.
“The government of Vietnam will not allow any act of sabotage targeting foreign enterprises and staff, and will strictly handle violations, punish the troublemakers, and ensure that such regrettable incidents will not reoccur,” Dang Minh Khoi added.
He maintained Vietnam would defend its sovereignty and asked China to remove the HYSY 981 rig from what Vietnam claims to be Vietnamese territorial waters in the South China Sea. China, however, says it is operating in its own continental shelf.
One person was reported killed during the anti-China protests last Tuesday and Wednesday, but according to Reuters the number could be as twenty one dead and a hundred wounded.