Date
15 December 2017
More than 1,000 people died in a wave of rioting in Indonesia in May 1998. Photo: Wikipedia
More than 1,000 people died in a wave of rioting in Indonesia in May 1998. Photo: Wikipedia

Vietnam riots tug at Taiwanese woman an ocean away

A wave of violent anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam this week brought back painful memories for Bai Jiali, an ocean away in Indonesia and 16 years removed from her own tragedy.

Bai and her husband suffered pain and loss when racially charged rioting broke out in the capital Jakarta and other key cities in May 1998, Taiwan’s ETtoday reported Wednesday.

The rioters targeted ethnic Chinese after mass demostrations over food shortages and unemployment boiled over into widespread violence.

Bai, her husband and a few other people escaped after being trapped in an office building next to a Chinese restaurant that had been burned and looted.

Bai, who had moved to Indonesia from Taiwan where she had been a popular TV host in the 1960s, said she counts herself among the lucky ones.

More than 1,000 ethnic Chinese died in the violence, some were raped and many others lost their homes and livelihood.

Although the Vietnam carnage happened for a different reason — territorial tensions between Hanoi and Beijing over competing claims in the South China Sea — Bai drew parrallels from it, saying good neighborliness could help ease conflict in a multi-ethnic society.

Don’t show off your wealth, respect others and be friendly, she told ETtoday.

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EJ Insight reporter

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