Rising anti-Chinese feelings in Vietnam have apparently stoked deeper sentiments that are coming to the surface only now and affecting other foreigners in the country as well.
Owners of Taiwanese establishments that have been looted and vandalized at the height of the recent protests believe the attacks were the result of people mistaking them for mainland Chinese.
But a Chinese academic asserts that the protests, although sparked by anti-Chinese sentiment, have also become an expression of the people’s dissatisfaction with a lot of other things, including injustice, income disparity and corruption.
Taiwanese became targets because of the perception among many Vietnamese that they were “mean” in their dealings with the local population, Wu Yuanfu, head of Law School at the Guangxi University for Nationalities, told Ming Pao Daily.
Wu said Taiwanese run more factories in Vietnam than businessmen from Hong Kong and mainland China, and this could also have been a factor that led to the attacks against Taiwanese-owned establishments.
He also believes the anti-Chinese protests were supported by the Vietnamese government. He recalled that during the 10-week anti-Chinese riots that started in May 2011, Hanoi used everything in its power to quell the protests. But this time around, the government only made a token response and was even reported to have sent people to agitate the protesters with anti-Chinese slogans, said Wu, who is an expert in Vietnam laws.
The protesters also attacked Japanese, South Korean and Singaporean companies, giving vent to all the injustices they see around them, he said. This may be their reaction to the growing influence of foreigners over the country’s economy.
The Ming Pao report has been widely circulated by mainland media, including the ifeng.com and sina.com, on Thursday.
‘I love Vietnam’
For most foreigners in Vietnam, however, what is more important than who to blame for the attacks is how to remain safe in a chaotic environment.
Headline News reported on Thursday that several companies run by foreigners in the country have started putting up “I love Vietnam” banners at their factories to avoid becoming targets of anti-Chinese protests.
A Hong Kong garment maker surnamed Chan, who has been running a factory in Ho Chi Minh City for 20 years, said the joint-venture plant did not suffer any damage during the protests because it had banners in Vietnamese with no Chinese characters.
Another textile factory in the area was attacked by the rioters even after its owner pleaded with them in Vietnamese — but with a Chinese accent.
Some Taiwanese businessmen are also donning traditional Vietnamese attire to avoid attracting anti-Chinese sentiment, Metro Daily reported.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister David Lin insisted Vietnamese are friendly with Taiwan people, and advised businessmen to hang banners outside their establishments to indicate they are Taiwanese, the report said.
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