Officials in the north-central province of Ha Tinh have allowed a Taiwanese steel plant investor to bring thousands of Chinese nationals into the country before securing their work permits.
Nguyen Van Son, director of the labor department of Ha Tinh Province, said nearly 4,400 Chinese nationals are currently employed by the Hung Nghiep Formosa Ha Tinh.
Only 1,000 of them have obtained work permits, Son said.
The Taiwanese firm oversees the site of a massive steel plant being built in the Vung Ang Economic Zone that made international headlines when anti-Chinese rioters ravaged it in May.
Son said the Ha Tinh provincial administration has taken the unusual step to ensure the Formosa Plastics Group meets its construction schedule.
Son blamed Formosa for being late in completing necessary procedures to secure permits for those workers.
“We are working with the Ha Tinh Economic Zone Management Board to urge the contractor to submit the documents required to license the workers,” he added.
Vung Ang became the unlikely target of anti-China violence triggered by China's illegal deployment of a giant US$1-billion oil rig into Vietnamese waters on May 2.
Rioters torched, looted and vandalized the construction site.
A Chinese worker receives a health check in Ha Tinh Province. Photo: Nguyen Dung
The incident left three Chinese workers dead and 149 others, both Chinese and Vietnamese, injured on May 14.
Around 3,000 Chinese workers subsequently fled Vietnam.
A source from the Ha Tinh police department said 5,660 Chinese have applied for temporary residence status around Vung Ang, in addition to another 400 foreign nationals from 23 other countries and territories.
The police said the site's staff of 31,068 includes 25,442 Vietnamese.
Provincial government officials said the contractors have described a need for a total of around 45,000 workers by the first quarter of next year, including 8,000 foreigners.
Several media outlets in August published stories alleging that Formosa employed tens of thousands of Chinese workers.
Labor officials quickly dismissed the reports as false.
Vietnam’s labor policies place priority on the domestic workforce. Theoretically, businesses here can only hire foreign workers to fill positions that the local workers cannot.