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May 30, 2017

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Taiwan may 'adjust' relations with Vietnam: Premier Jiang

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) recently said in an exclusive interview with BBC News that the R.O.C government has sent an "ultimatum-like" message to the Vietnamese government regarding the violent anti-Chinese protests in May, stressing that the Vietnamese government should face the matter of compensation, otherwise Taiwan will make "political adjustments" with Vietnam.

Many Vietnamese launched protests after Beijing deployed an oil rig in disputed waters in May. In a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment, Vietnamese protesters damaged the facilities of companies owned by Taiwanese businesses and attacked Taiwanese people.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), as of May 28, a total of 408 companies and factories owned by Taiwanese businessmen were affected by the protests. Of those affected, 24 of them were set ablaze. Property and financial losses are between US$150 million and US$500 million, the MOEA said.

During the interview, Jiang said Vietnam has established a response mechanism for future reference and increased police manpower in every industrial park, adding that Vietnam has said it will not let any demonstrators lose control and attack factories in the future.

Jiang said, however, that the Vietnamese government is not sincere enough regarding compensation for the damages. He said that "perhaps the Vietnamese government thinks that Taiwanese businessmen will not really move away from Vietnam as they have already invested a large sum of money and have facilities in Vietnam."

The premier said if the protests had taken place in Taiwan, the R.O.C. government would compensate the victims as soon as possible and ensure that such things could never happen again.

Jiang said the government has requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) send a message similar to an "ultimatum," stressing that the R.O.C. government will "definitely" take further actions should the Vietnamese government continue to not take the issue seriously. The actions include seeking international support and imposing sanctions against the country, Jiang said.

Jiang said the executive branch will continue to strive for Taiwanese businessmen's interests in Vietnam, stressing that if the Vietnamese government fails to achieve that, then "we will make some political adjustments."

Jiang on Ma-Xi Meeting

When asked about the potential meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Jiang said Taiwan is still eyeing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting this coming November as the best opportunity for the meeting to take place.

Jiang said Taiwan does not mean to "internationalize" the cross-strait issue. He further said that APEC is the best venue because the leaders of the world will participate in the meeting as economic entities rather than political entities.

The premier said it would be a pity if the potential Ma-Xi meeting cannot take place because of some of the Chinese officials' conservative thinking.

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