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Vietnamese in Taiwan fear reprisals after riots

TAIPEI -- Vietnamese spouses of Taiwanese citizens Thursday plead for people not to direct public anger at them over the anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam.

Around a dozen women representing associations for foreign spouses and workers gathered in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei, chanting slogans such as: “Don't let hatred hurt my family” amid fears that anti-Vietnamese sentiment could take hold.

“We don't want the Taiwanese people to hate us,” explained Phung Ngoc Hien, a Vietnamese woman who has been married to a Taiwanese man for 12 years.

Pham Thinh Tran, who is also married to a Taiwanese man, said she feels like others have begun to hate her since the riots erupted earlier this week.

Both women are members of the Taiwan International Family Association, one of the groups behind the small-scale rally.

The TransAsia Sisters Association, a similar group that also helped organize the event, called for calm and decried violence against innocent people.

Despite the calls, there have not been any reports of ethnically motivated attacks in Taiwan in response to the violent protests that have reportedly left more than 20 dead.

The riots erupted Tuesday as a response to a Chinese oil-drilling venture in an area of the South China Sea that is also claimed by Hanoi.

Taiwan has condemned the violence and has asked Vietnamese authorities to protect the safety of Taiwanese nationals in the country.

Earlier in the day, Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lin said the situation in Vietnam appeared to have calmed somewhat, with most of Binh Duong province returning to law and order though small-scale unrest remained in neighboring Dong Nai province.

China Airlines and EVA Airways, Taiwan's biggest international carriers, have offered chartered flights and increased the capacity of scheduled flights between Vietnam and Taiwan by employing larger aircraft to help ferry Taiwanese businesspeople and expatriates back home.

So far, hundreds of Taiwan-sponsored companies in Vietnam have been affected and two Taiwanese nationals were hurt in the riots, Lin said.

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