A large crowd of Vietnamese plundered the MCC site
Chengdu - XINHUA
The boss of a Chinese company hit by deadly riots earlier this month in Vietnam has said it has no timetable for resuming work in its steel project in the southeastern Asian country. Guo Wenqing, president of the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), said the company had suspended construction at the factory in Ha Tinh Province after a riot on May 14 left four of its workers dead and 126 other injured. "Whether or when we resume work depends on the local situation in the future," Guo told Xinhua in an interview. A large crowd of Vietnamese plundered the MCC site and attacked workers as anti-China protests spun out of control following a flare-up in the South China Sea. Many foreign companies in Vietnam, including those from South Korea, Japan and Singapore, were also subjected to the violence. The MCC is the contractor of a steel complex, which is owned by the Formosa Plastics Group of Taiwan. According to the MCC, the project was expected to become Southeast Asia's largest steel-making facility and alleviate the dearth of steel supply in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. With a planned investment of 23 billion U.S. dollars, the factory was expected to begin operation in 2015. Yet the majority of the 3,000-plus MCC workers at the site have been flown and shipped back home following the incident. Only 30 staff members of the company remained in Vietnam as Guo said their safety could be guaranteed. HARD TO HEAL Adding to the company's uncertain attitude was its staff's fear about the possibility of returning to Vietnam. "I'm still frightened and I don't dare to return to Vietnam," said Che Zhi, who survived the attack with injuries. The 27-year-old equipment maintenance worker from China's Sichuan Province saw over 1,000 rioters storm into the factory wielding knives, stones and rods on the day of the attack. Che was seized and beaten by a group of assailants. Another Chinese worker, Lei Fa'an, who suffered bone fractures and lost one finger, was stunned by the attack, as local residents were generally friendly to them. In his description, the mob, mostly men in their 20s and 30s, arrived by taking buses and behaved "like they were organized." Analysts said the riots have damaged Vietnam's investment reputation and cast a shadow over its economic growth. In particular, they may scare away future Chinese investors and tourists, many of whom now regard the country as unsafe. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Monday urged Vietnam to severely punish the perpetrators of the riots. It is reported that two Vietnamese have been sentenced to prison terms for their roles in the violence. The spokesman said the punishment was not enough, though, while urging Vietnam to conduct a thorough investigation, severely punish the criminals, compensate for losses, and take measures to ensure the safety of Chinese enterprises and citizens. "Only in this way will the international community regain confidence in Vietnam," he added.