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Formosa Plastics: 4 Chinese workers dead, 3,000 to leave Vietnam

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Group said Monday that four Chinese workers had died at its steel mill in Vietnam during recent riots in the Southeast Asian country, adding that another 3,000 Chinese laborers at the site are soon to be evacuated.

    Many foreign factories went under siege during the anti-China riots in Vietnam's industrial parks last week. Although the mob were mainly targeting Chinese businesses out of anger over Beijing's construction of a massive oil rig in the disputed South China Sea waters, plants belonging to companies from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were also set ablaze.

   Lin Hsin-yi, the steel mill's chairman, told reporters that the imminent departure of the Chinese workers will delay the construction of the mill, originally slated to go on line in May 2015, by one to two months. The workers have been deployed by China Metallurgical Group, a Chinese state-owned construction company, according to Lin.

    "I will be meeting Vietnamese officials to demand compensation and protection for our investment," Lin said. "We have injected more than $6 billion into the construction of this steel mill and we are not suspending the project."

    Formosa Plastics Group's steel mill in the central Vietnamese province of Ha Tinh was vandalized on May 14. The group said its preliminary estimate of damage at the site totaled $3 million.

    China's state-run Xinhua news agency also reported Monday that the Chinese government has dispatched vessels to pick up 4,000 Chinese workers from Vietnam later in the day.

    Experts say that the causes behind government-endorsed protests were multi-layered. In addition to territorial disputes between Hanoi and Beijing, Vietnamese workers are also weary of a growing presence of Chinese laborers who are competing for jobs with the locals.

   However, the riots appeared to spiral out of control as mobs attacked foreign businesses indiscriminately, prompting international companies to reconsider their investments in Vietnam.

    Meanwhile, Hanoi has been scrambling to reassure international investors that their investments will be protected.

    On Sunday, Vietnamese representative to Taipei, Bui Trong Van, apologized to Taiwan businesses that sustained damage and said his government will offer tax reduction as compensation. 

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