Beijing suspends exchanges with Vietnam over anti-China riots

Stung by anti-China riots in Vietnam over the South China Sea dispute, Beijing on Sunday hit back by suspending plans for bilateral exchanges with Hanoi even as it evacuated over 3,000 Chinese workers from the southeast Asian nation.

Staff members, from the China 19th Metallurgical Corporation (MCC19), arrived at the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

‘They returned to China with the assistance of (the) Chinese Embassy to Vietnam,’ China’s Foreign Ministry said today in a statement.

China will suspend some of its plans for bilateral exchanges with Vietnam in response to the deadly violence against Chinese nationals in the country, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said without elaborating.

He made the remarks while commenting on the possible repercussions of the incidents in Vietnam that have left two Chinese nationals dead and more than 100 others injured, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Hong said China has also lifted the level of security warning for Chinese tourists in Vietnam, asking its citizens not to travel to the country. ‘The severe violence targeting foreign companies in Vietnam since May 13 has caused casualties and property losses for Chinese nationals. This sabotaged the atmosphere and conditions for bilateral communication and cooperation,’ he said.

China will also consider taking further measures according to the further developments, he warned. China has already blamed Vietnam for conniving with anti-China forces to instigate the riots.

Unofficial reports said 21 Chinese were killed and over 100 injured in a spate of attacks on Chinese factories in mob attacks in the last few days after China and Vietnam clashed over the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in the disputed South China Sea waters on 1 May.

China confirmed two deaths. Naval vessels of the two countries rammed into each other over 500 times even though there was no incident of firing so far.

Meanwhile the clash sparked anti-China violence in Vietnam, stated to be the worst since the war between the two countries in 1979.

Over 460 factories mostly Chinese- and Taiwan-funded were torched by mobs. China began evacuating thousands of its stranded citizens by by special planes and ships. So far over 3,000 Chinese nationals have been evacuated and five ships were sent today to bring back the rest.

A rescue vessel has been sent to the region to provide emergency support. Another rescue vessel and a rescue helicopter are on standby, administration officials said. An iron and steel complex in Ha Tinh province of Vietnam, invested by Taipei-based Formosa Plastics Group, was badly hit in the violent attacks triggered by disputes over sovereignty over the South China Sea.

Sixteen critically injured Chinese nationals were evacuated from Vietnam early this morning aboard a chartered medical flight arranged by the Chinese government.
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