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July 22, 2017

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Taiwan firms in Vietnam up and running

TAIPEI -- Over 90 percent of Taiwanese businesses that suffered damage during last month's anti-China riots in Vietnam have resumed operations, a Taiwanese business group said Friday.

"Taiwanese businesses have tried very hard to resume operations and are not considering withdrawing their investment," said Hsu Yu-lin (許玉林), the chairman of the Bing Duong (平陽) Taiwan Business Association's reconstruction committee.

Operations have yet to be fully restored at most factories, with some companies even renting factory space to set up production lines, he said at a press conference in Taiwan after Taiwan and Vietnam concluded their first joint mediation session.

Seven companies that were set ablaze and suffered major damage were still in poor shape and unlikely to resume operations in the near term, Hsu said.

Despite the extent of the companies' direct losses, estimated at between US$150 million and US$500 million, "no company that I know of is considering withdrawing their investment," he said.

He warned, however, that if compensation measures were not in place soon, Asama Bicycles could be the first Taiwanese company to throw in the towel after six of its 10 factories were set ablaze during the riots.

Liu Mei-te (劉美德), chairwoman of the Council of Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce in Vietnam, added at the press conference that the owner of Asama still wants to stay in Vietnam.

"Although nobody wants to withdraw their investment, those who had planned to expand and increase their investment are now holding back on their projects," she said.

Taiwanese business people still were thankful for the Vietnamese government's active support after the riots, Liu said.

The riots erupted on May 13 after Vietnamese crowds took to the streets to protest a Chinese oil drilling venture in an area of the South China Sea that Hanoi insists is in its exclusive economic zone.

Taiwanese businessmen said Friday, however, that the protests had been hijacked by anti-government rioters seeking to hurt Vietnam's economy and were not specifically targeted at ethnic Chinese people.

The riots in the southern provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ho Chi Minh City and the central province of Ha Tinh affected 425 Taiwanese enterprises, 25 of which were seriously damaged.

While direct losses ranged between US$150 million to US$500 million, total damages could be as high as US$1 billion once lost profit and other indirect costs are factored in.

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