Taiwanese factory in Myanmar caught up in anti-China protest

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Taiwanese enterprises in Myanmar to hang up the national flag and signs in Burmese to avoid being misidentified as Chinese after a Taiwanese shoe factory was caught up in protests last night, March 14.

Ten Taiwanese staff were trapped in the Tsang Yih Company’s shoe factory in the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone in Yangon while a nearby Chinese-owned factory burned.

Protestors anger turned toward Chinese enterprises, as China is viewed as being supportive of the military junta that overthrew the democratic government of Myanmar in a coup last month.

Chinese state media reported that at 1:50 pm local time, 20 people on motorcycles, carrying iron rods, axes, and gasoline broke into the Chinese-owned Global Fashion factory complex and set the factories on fire.

The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar said that many Chinese-owned factories in the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone were looted and burned by criminals on Sunday afternoon, according to the Paukphaw, Chinese-funded media, reported The Irrawaddy.

The nearby Taiwanese-owned Tsang Yih Company factories were also affected. Protestors forcibly entered the factory complex, destroying a guardhouse and four company vehicles, and surrounded the factory, according to Apple Daily. Ten Taiwanese nationals were trapped inside the factory.

aerial image of Tsang Yih shoe factory in Myanmar

The Tsang Yih Company manufactures shoes, employing 9,000 people, and is a major supplier to Adidas.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that Burmese military and police entered the industrial zone last night and declared martial law. The protestors who had surrounded the factory have been dispersed, MOFA said.

MOFA said that the 10 people who were trapped during the protest are safe, and that Taiwan’s Myanmar representative office has arranged safe hotel accommodation for Taiwanese business personnel.

MOFA said that there are several Taiwanese-funded enterprises in the industrial zone, and that the Tsang Yih factory was the only one affected.

MOFA notified Taiwanese businesspeople in Myanmar, suggesting that they use Burmese text to mark the factory as “Taiwanese Enterprise” and display the national flag to avoid being misidentified.

International news outlets are reporting that 22 protestors were killed by police and military in the industrial zone yesterday, and at least 16 were killed in actions elsewhere in the country yesterday.

smoke rises from a burning factory in an industrial zone in Yangon, March 14, 2021.
Smoke rises from a burning factory in an industrial zone in Yangon, Sunday, March 14, 2021. Picture: Wiebo.
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