At least 21 people were killed as anti-China riots in southern Vietnam escalated and spread to the center of the country on Thursday. A doctor in Ha Tinh province described five of the dead as Vietnamese workers and others as Chinese.
Officials said Thursday the riot in central Vietnam\’s Ha Tihn province was the first deadly incident in a wave of anti-Chinese protests. Thousands have walked off their jobs and rampaged through foreign-owned factories, injuring around 100 people.
In southern Binh Duong province, mobs torched and looted more than a dozen factories, including some owned by Korean and Taiwanese firms.
Many factories in the area were closed Wednesday as riot police tried to regain control of the situation.
Tsai Wan-chen, president of the Taiwanese Businessmen Association in Binh Duong, Vietnam, said the situation is still volatile, despite reports of police making more than 200 arrests.
China has issued a travel advisory for its citizens in Vietnam, and a spokeswoman this week said Beijing is closely watching the situation.
Beijing last month moved a state-run oil rig to an area near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, within what Vietnam considers its exclusive economic zone.
Chinese and Vietnamese ships have since clashed and sprayed water cannons at each other, raising fears of an all-out military clash.
China and Vietnam fought a brief but bloody border war in 1979, and clashed at sea in 1988, when China occupied its first holdings in the strategic Spratly islands.