Enraged by China, Vietnam Mobs Torch 15 Factories

South China Sea protest spins out of control

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 14, 2014 1:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – Anti-China mobs torched up to 15 foreign-owned factories and trashed many more in southern Vietnam last night amid rising anger over China's recent installment of an oil rig in disputed Southeast Asian waters. The unrest at industrial parks established to attract foreign investors, which followed protests involving up to 20,000 workers, was the most serious outbreak of public disorder in the tightly controlled country in years, and comes as the government tries to manage public anger against China while itself protesting Chinese actions in a part of the South China Sea it claims as its own.

An official says the protests were initially peaceful but were hijacked by "extremists" who incited people to break into the factories. He said at least 15 factories were set alight and "hundreds" more vandalized or looted, while some security guards and unidentified "foreign experts" were assaulted. China's foreign ministry has issued a statement urging Chinese travelers to "carefully consider travel plans and go with caution" and Chinese residents and organizations in Vietnam to "raise their risk awareness and strengthen security."

Vietnamese protesters hold banners during a protest rally in Saigon.
Vietnamese protesters hold banners during a protest rally in Saigon.   (AP Photo)
A Vietnamese protester holds up a placard and shouts slogans during a protest rally in Saigon.
A Vietnamese protester holds up a placard and shouts slogans during a protest rally in Saigon.   (AP Photo)
Vietnamese people protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi.
Vietnamese people protest outside the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi.   (AP Photo/Chris Brummitt)
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