Singapore urges Vietnam to restore order at industrial parks hit by anti-China protests

A gate from a factory in Binh Duong province destroyed following anti-China protests in Vietnam. -- PHOTO: ST READER BENJAMIN
A gate from a factory in Binh Duong province destroyed following anti-China protests in Vietnam. -- PHOTO: ST READER BENJAMIN
Protesters hold anti-China placards while marching in an anti-China protest on a street in Hanoi on May 11, 2014. Foreigners working in the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) were urged to leave the province in southern Vietnam, after thousands
Protesters hold anti-China placards while marching in an anti-China protest on a street in Hanoi on May 11, 2014. Foreigners working in the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) were urged to leave the province in southern Vietnam, after thousands of native workers went on a rampage, torching Chinese factories in protest of Beijing's deployment of an oil drilling rig in disputed waters. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS 
Thousands of workers staged a protest at an industrial park in southern Vietnam Tuesday over China's deployment of a drilling rig in contested waters, damaging factories and offices. -- PHOTO: ST READER BENJAMIN
Thousands of workers staged a protest at an industrial park in southern Vietnam Tuesday over China's deployment of a drilling rig in contested waters, damaging factories and offices. -- PHOTO: ST READER BENJAMIN

SINGAPORE has called on the Vietnamese authorities to restore calm at the Sembcorp-run industrial parks in Binh Duong province urgently, after a wave of anti-China protests on Tuesday caused widespread damage to the facilities of a number of foreign-owned companies there.

"Singapore views this issue very seriously given our close economic cooperation with Vietnam," a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman said in a statement released on Wednesday.

"The Singapore Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City have separately requested the relevant Vietnamese authorities to restore order urgently."

The site of the protests - the Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP) I and II in Thuan An district in the southern Binh Duong province, is run by Singapore's Sembcorp Industries, a public-listed energy, water and marine group. VSIP is a flagship project initiated by the Vietnamese and Singapore governments to encourage investment flows to Vietnam, and it now houses many manufacturing units of firms from Singapore, China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Singapore has registered "its serious concerns about the security situation in VSIP I and II, and the attacks on foreign companies in the two industrial parks," the MFA spokesman said.

"MFA requests the Vietnamese government to act immediately to restore law and order in the two VSIPs before the security situation worsens and investor confidence is undermined."

The protests, which have caused huge losses and disrupted the operations of a number of foreign firms in the parks, erupted on Tuesday after tens of thousands of local workers staged a walk-out to protest against China's recent deployment of an oil drilling rig in contested waters in South China Sea.

Local media said the workers went on a looting rampage, smashing factory gates, pouring into private compounds before setting facilities on fire. They targeted mainly Chinese firms, but some Taiwanese firms also suffered collateral damage.

There have not been any reports of Singaporeans affected by the demonstration, MFA said. Singaporeans in Vietnam who require consular assistance can contact the Singapore Embassy in Hanoi, the Singapore Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City or the MFA 24-hour duty office at 6379 8800 or 6379 8855.