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Gov't increases travel alerts for Vietnam

TAIPEI--Taipei issued a yellow travel alert for Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday and an orange alert for two provinces in northern suburban areas of the largest city in southern Vietnam, as local anti-China protesters turned violent and damaged expatriate businesses a day earlier.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) issued the orange travel alert for Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces, urging citizens to take precautions and avoid unnecessary travel to the two provinces.

Under MOFA's four-color travel alert system, orange is the second-highest alert after red, with yellow and gray the two lower levels.

The protests, which began Monday, were triggered by China's deployment of an oil rig in what Vietnam considers to be its economic waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

Factories owned by businessmen from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Singapore in industrial zones of Binh Duong and Dong Nai have been looted and damaged by the protesters. The Binh Duong provincial government deployed more than 2,000 security forces to restore order, but 20,000 protesters were reported to be still roaming around.

According to sources, the protesters were heading for industrial zones in Ho Chi Minh City, which with 8 million residents is Vietnam's largest city, prompting MOFA to issue the yellow travel alert for the city, which advises citizens to take precautions and to reconsider their travel plans if planning to visit the city.

There were 943 Taiwanese tourists in 43 tour groups in Vietnam as of press time, although just 25 tourists in one group were in Ho Chi Minh City itself, according to statistics from the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

The tourists in Ho Chi Minh City were planning to cut short their trips and return to Taiwan Wednesday night. All the other tourists were in northern Vietnam.

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