In response to reports that China prohibited state-owned companies from bidding on public projects in Vietnam, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang said the ban, if true, will have no effect on Vietnam.
Many Vietnamese projects are being built by Japanese and South Korean contractors, Thang told the press on the sidelines of a National Assembly meeting on Tuesday.
Local companies are now capable of building transport projects, as they have acquired a great deal of advanced technology, he said.
In the event that Chinese contractors opt to withdraw, Vietnam will replace them with others who will be able to work even more effectively, according to the minister.
The transport ministry has a number of contingency plans, he added.
Thang also stressed that China will be the first to suffer from such a decision because Vietnam is considered a desirable, stable market that has attracted a great deal of foreign investment.
Asked about the cheapness of Chinese loans and technology that Vietnam has made use of over the years, the minister said Chinese loans are “definitely not cheap” -- no one issues a loan without accruing interest, he added.
Vietnamese infrastructure projects draw funding from a variety of sources, of which Japan makes the largest contributions and China makes one of the smallest, he said.
The minister also said that the revised Law on Bidding prohibits choosing contractors based sheerly on cost and instead places new emphasis on a potential contractor's capacity, experience and technology.
Nine Chinese companies are now in charge of 17 infrastructure projects in Vietnam, Thang said, adding that the projects are worth nearly VND30 trillion (US$1.4 billion) and half of them have already been completed.
On Monday, the South China Morning Post quoted unnamed sources as saying that the Chinese government has temporarily barred its state-owned companies from bidding for new contracts in Vietnam.
The move came in the wake of the current standoff created by the US$1-billion oil rig China deployed into Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone earlier last month.
The bid ban may represent Beijing's new effort to place economic pressure on Vietnam, according to a quote the paper attributed to Xu Liping, an expert on China's relations in Southeast Asia at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ National Institute of International Strategy.
Meanwhile, Zhang Jie, another foreign affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the newspaper that China will not be able to threaten economic development in Vietnam, because the amount of Chinese work in that country is too small.
It quoted the Business Association of China in Vietnam as saying that some 113 Chinese companies, including electrical and chemical engineering firms, are currently operating in Vietnam.
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