Beijing tells Hanoi it must pay for losses

Updated: 2014-05-27 07:15

By Pu Zhendong (China Daily)

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Convictions 'simply not enough', says spokesman for Foreign Ministry

Vietnam needs to thoroughly investigate the recent anti-China riots there, and must pay compensation to Chinese nationals and enterprises to regain global confidence in the country, officials and analysts said.

On Sunday, authorities in Vietnam's Binh Duong province, north of Ho Chi Minh City, found two men guilty for the riots starting on May 13 that killed two Chinese citizens, injured hundreds of others and damaged hundreds of foreign factories, the country's Thanh Nien Daily newspaper reported.

However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a news conference on Monday that the convictions are "simply not enough".

"We urge Vietnam to take effective measures to guarantee the safety of Chinese nationals and enterprises," he said. "The robbery, arson and vandalism in the riots have caused heavy casualties and property losses to Chinese companies and staff."

Le Van Nghiem, a worker at the Chan Viet Joint Stock Co, was sentenced to three years in prison for "causing public disorder" and "deliberately damaging property". The public trial attracted thousands of spectators.

According to the indictment, Nghiem joined a group of about 200 people who pulled down his employer's gate on the evening of May 13, screaming about "chasing the Chinese back to their country". Nghiem was also believed to have blocked and damaged a police car.

In court, Nghiem admitted his crimes and said he regretted his actions.

On the same day, another court in Binh Duong sentenced Chau Vinh Tuong to one year in prison for robbery.

Le Xuan Truong, chief of the secretariat of the Binh Duong police department, told The Wall Street Journal that more than 700 of the approximately 1,000 people arrested for participating in the riots will face trials and the rest will receive administrative fines.

Su Hao, a professor of Asia-Pacific studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said the loss to Chinese citizens and businesses was real and witnessed by the world, so China deserves immediate and sincere compensation, not just self-deceiving stimulus measures.

"Vietnam has benefited from China's trade, investment, industrial transfer and an increasing number of Chinese tourists, so it had better not play a victim on the international stage, and it should start taking seriously China's demands," Su said.

Protests broke out in mid-May in some Vietnamese cities and turned violent soon afterward, after Vietnam's intensive disruptions of China's normal drilling in the waters of Xisha Islands in the South China Sea earlier this month. Firms from countries like Singapore, Japan and South Korea were also affected in Vietnam by the protests.

"The affected factories are also suppliers to Wal-Mart, Target, and British and European retail outlets," said Theodore Moran, a senior fellow with the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics. "Even though it (the violence) is mainly anti-Chinese, it affects the global supply chains that Vietnam is participating in. In that sense, it could damage the environment reputation of Vietnam."

The recent upheavals were not going to "destroy" the already diversified Vietnamese economy, but would "have a negative impact on the growth", Moran was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

In another development, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday said it has "sufficient legal and historical evidence affirming its sovereignty" over China's Xisha Islands, and demanded that China remove its oil rig there.

Calling the remarks "ridiculous", Qin said a great amount of historical evidence shows that China has been the owner of Xisha Islands since the Western and Eastern Han dynasties (206 BC-AD 220).

"It is strange that Vietnam recognized China's sovereignty before the mid-1970s and has betrayed its commitment since then," Qin said.

"The country distorts history, denies facts, breaks its promises and has low credibility internationally," he added.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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