As sea tensions mount, Vietnamese employees at Chinese factories stop work to protest

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Around 6,000 workers at the Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Park 1 (VSIP 1) carried banners reading “China get out of the East Sea,” “I love Vietnam” and “Viva Vietnam” as they marched through the industrial park.

On Monday evening, around 100 workers from the Giay Thong Dung Company, a wholly Taiwanese-invested footwear company, waved banners, marched and shouted anti-China slogans.

The following morning around 8,000 company employees stopped working and held another demonstration.

As they marched through the industrial park, employees at other companies stopped working and joined the demonstrations.

Roughly 5,000 employees work at the Far Eastern Apparel firm (a wholly Chinese-invested company) and roughly 1,000 workers from Mega Step Electronics (a wholly Hong Kong-invested company) participated in the VSIP 1 demonstrations.

Tens of thousands of people in major Vietnamese cities also took to streets Sunday to protest China’s actions.

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China and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all claim territory in the resource- and oil-rich East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea.

Over the past years, Vietnam and the Philippines have accused China of harassing their fishermen and damaging their vessels in the disputed waters.

The tensions between Hanoi and Beijing resurfaced early this month when the state-run China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) moved a giant US$-1billion oil rig into position in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands.

Images and videos released by Vietnam showed Chinese boats ramming and firing water cannons at Vietnamese vessels, damaging the ships and injuring many Vietnamese fisheries surveillance officers.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Sunday also condemned China’s actions at a regional summit in Myanmar, saying the move seriously threatens international freedom of navigation.

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