Vietnam has duty to protect foreign investors and staff

Updated: 2014-05-17 07:32

(China Daily)

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Thousands of Vietnamese protesters have gone on the rampage, setting fire to foreign-funded factories, including a huge foreign steel plant in Ha Tinh, as anti-China riots spread from the southern to the central parts of Vietnam. This has endangered the lives and property of not only Chinese citizens and enterprises, including those from Taiwan, but also seriously affected enterprises from Singapore and Japan, the Beijing News said in an editorial.

Media reports say that more than a dozen people, most of them Chinese, have been killed in the violence.

There is no doubt that the Vietnamese government is answerable for the killings, arson, and looting, targeted mainly at Chinese nationals and enterprises. No government can escape the responsibility of protecting the legitimate rights and interests of foreign enterprises and organizations in the country, and ensuring the safety of foreign citizens within its borders.

Since the Vietnamese government sanctioned the business activities of the companies from China and other Asian countries and regions that have suffered heavy losses, it should have taken measures to provide them foolproof protection. Instead, it succinctly encouraged anti-China forces and protesters through some of its recent actions of targeting Chinese nationals and interests. The anti-China looting and arson came after Vietnamese ships repeatedly disrupted the normal operations of a Chinese oil company in the South China Sea 17 nautical miles (27 kilometers) from China's Xisha Islands.

The targeted Chinese people and enterprises were not engaged in any illegal or improper activities; on the contrary, they were there trying to help build up Vietnam. Thus the Vietnamese government should have not only provided them with a safe working environment, but also ensured their safety.

Vietnam is pursuing an innovation and opening-up policy, which is being helped by a large number of foreign-funded enterprises and foreign citizens doing business in the country. Though most of them have not been affected by the anti-China riots, Hanoi's nonfeasance in protecting the legitimate rights of Chinese nationals has caused anxiety and worry among many foreign enterprises and citizens. And if the violence continues to spread, there is no guarantee that other foreign companies and citizens will not suffer in the future.

The Vietnamese government should immediately take necessary and effective measures to restore law and order in areas hit by violence and punish the perpetrators so as to reassure foreign enterprises and citizens of their safety.

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