A stand-off between China and Vietnam over the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in the disputed South China Sea on Wednesday sparked protests in Vietnam with reports that hundreds of people had torched and ransacked several Chinese factories.

Vietnamese authorities said mobs of “thousands” of people had attacked businesses in industrial zones. Many had attacked Taiwanese factories, mistaking them to be companies from the mainland.

More than 200 people had been arrested, Vietnamese officials told local media, and added that there had, so far, been no reports of any injuries in the violence.

The attacks had been triggered by increasing tensions between China and Vietnam, countries that have recently enjoyed close relations between their Communist party-led governments, over the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in waters off the Paracel Islands.China claims the islands, while the waters also lie within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone around 200 nautical miles from its coastline.

Stop attacks: Beijing

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters here the Chinese government had made “solemn representations” to Hanoi over the reports of attacks on factories and asked Vietnamese authorities to “take all necessary measures” to stop incidents and punish the perpetrators.

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