Vietnam’s transport minister has publicly criticized the management of a Chinese railway company following accidents at a key elevated railway construction project in the capital, Hanoi.
Dinh La Thang was seen in a nationally televised broadcast late Wednesday shouting and pointing his fingers at a representative of the China Railway Sixth Group during a meeting.
“Each time an accident happens, you accept responsibility, but things have not changed," he said. "Even if you make an excuse this time by saying that we borrow loans [from China], I can ask our government to replace you. We cannot trade [Chinese] loans for Vietnamese lives.”
The minister’s blunt words were delivered days after a scaffolding collapse that nearly killed a taxi driver and his passengers, and a month after an incident involving a crane left one person dead.
Thang urged the Chinese side to fire its consultants and subcontractors and replace them with local workers.
In response, the contractor’s representative said his company would follow Thang’s instructions and hold his staff accountable for what happened.
The first urban railway project in Hanoi, with a preferential loan from the Chinese government, has faced repeated delays, costing Vietnam approximately $300 million.
Public concerns over the infrastructure contract come amid anti-China sentiment sparked by Beijing’s assertive moves in the South China Sea last year.
During the height of the confrontation over a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters, Vietnamese rioters attacked and severely damaged several Chinese-owned businesses across Vietnam.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.