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Travel alert issued before Vietnam rallies

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday issued an “orange” travel alert for District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City due to anti-China protests slated to take place there and in other locations today.

According to MOFA, there have been reports of further possible protests over China's deployment of a drilling rig in contested waters, so the travel alert for Dist. 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in southern Vietnam, has moved to orange, the second highest level, meaning that Taiwanese travelers should take precautions and avoid the area if possible.

MOFA yesterday also issued a “yellow” travel alert for all of Vietnam.

Travel alerts for Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces, where over 100 Taiwanese-owned companies had been attacked and damaged by Vietnamese protesters, remain orange, MOFA said.

Protesters are expected to gather near the mainland Chinese Embassy in Hanoi, northern Vietnam, and in other areas in northern provinces of the country where Chinese businesses are based, MOFA officials said.

In Ho Chi Minh City, rallies could be held in areas such as the center of Dist. 1, City Hall and the office of China's Consulate General, MOFA said.

MOFA pointed out that 13 venues in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces, among others, have been designated as emergency shelters for Taiwanese expatriates.

Meanwhile, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have notified all Taiwanese currently living or staying in Vietnam and warned them to avoid traveling alone and to stay away from protests.

Taiwan's Representative to Vietnam, Huang Chih-peng (黃志鵬), said that 10 temporary shelters have been established along with shuttle buses that can carry Taiwanese nationals directly to the airport in Ho Chi Minh City if necessary.

According to MOFA, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City will remain open on May 18 and the number of phone lines available to contact the Ho Chi Minh City office will be increased from one to five.

MOFA also said that the number of seats available for all flights bound for Taiwan will be monitored by the ministry's officials to ensure that everyone can get home safely if the protests get out of control.

VP Urges Vietnamese Government to Control Citizens

Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) yesterday said that the Vietnamese Government must use its legal powers to control its citizens as a way of ensuring the nation's stability and safety.

Wu said that from the first day the violent demonstrations took place in Vietnam, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices in the country have been taking all necessary action to help Taiwanese citizens in the country.

According to Wu, the Vietnamese Government should keep the nation in order to ensure the demonstrations do not affect its international image or scare off investors from other countries.

Meanwhile, Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) requested that MOFA and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) prepare for any emergency situations.

The MOTC said that it has communicated with airline operators to request that they provide more seats for people who are scheduled to return to Taiwan.

For Taiwanese nationals wishing to return home, China Airlines and EVA Airways have been offering chartered flights and additional seating on their scheduled flights between Vietnam and Taiwan, also employing larger planes.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said that flights provided by China Airlines and EVA Air can each carry between 1,565 and 1,620 passengers back to Taiwan.

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A Taiwanese businessman talks to the press at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, yesterday, upon his return with his family from Vietnam. According to the CNA, some Taiwanese business owners in Vietnam decided to leave the country despite its current relative stability due to worries that an anti-China rally slated for today in Ho Chi Minh City may get out of control. (CNA)



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