The Vietnamese government dismissed rumors that tens of thousands of Chinese workers are currently employed at the industrial zone where three Chinese workers were killed in riots last May.
Amid rising unemployment, stories published by several media outlets this week alleged that Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group planned to add 10,000 Chinese employees to a force of thousands already building a steel plant in the Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh Province.
Vung Ang was the target of anti-China violence triggered by China’s deployment of a giant US$-1billion oil rig into Vietnamese waters on May 2. Rioters torched, looted and vandalized the steel plant construction site, leaving three Chinese workers dead and 149 others, both Chinese and Vietnamese, injured on May 14.
Around 3,000 Chinese workers subsequently fled Vietnam.
Vietnam's Vice Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Trong Dam denied reports of an outsized Chinese workforce at the site as well as rumors of a coming surge in Chinese labor during a regular government press briefing held on Thursday.
“The information is false at the present,” he told reporters.
As of August 21, Dam said the industrial park employed 33,000 workers including more than 30,000 Vietnamese, 1,913 Chinese and a number of other foreign nationals.
The 29 contractors currently building the Formosa plant have requested 10,000 workers, he said, and the provincial authorities are currently weighing the request.
Vietnam’s labor policies place priority on the domestic workforce and theoretically, businesses here can only hire foreign workers to fill positions that the local workforce cannot.
Dam said that officials in Ha Tinh have only approved the hiring of 2,063 additional workers “in accordance with Vietnamese regulations,” without specifying their nationalities.
Provincial government officials said the contractors have described a need for a total of around 45,000 workers by the first quarter next year, including 8,000 foreigners.