While local farmers have been repeatedly trapped by Chinese traders under the same trick, no intervention or support from authorities and relevant agencies has ever been offered to protect them from the trap.
So far this year, three cases have been added to the story, in which Chinese traders left local farmers with a huge unsold stock of sweet potatoes, defaulted on crab purchases, and encouraged locals to hunt leeches for them.
Traders disappear from potato harvest
In mid-2010, as many Chinese traders came to Vietnam to buy Japanese purple sweet potatoes at high prices, a number of farmers in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long began scrambling to grow the vegetable.
Things were going well until last month, when the traders unexpectedly cancelled their purchases, sending prices into a steep plunge -- from VND800,000 for 60kg down to only VND250,000.
At the huge purple sweet potato farm in Binh Tan District these days, no Chinese traders can be spotted, while the vegetables are all overripe.
Tran Van Vu, who had to rent two hectares of land to grow potatoes, said he is on the brink of losing everything, since even when all of the harvest is sold he will still not have enough money to clear bank debts.
Ngo Van Tua, head of the Thanh Dong commune cooperative, said the trading between his facility and Chinese traders has been made without any papers or contracts.
“The cooperative only buys from farmers if they agree on the prices and product quality set by Chinese traders,” said Tua.
“We know nothing about the traders except for the address of their warehouses on National Highway 1A.”
Traders default on crab purchase
Many farmers in the town of Nam Can District in the southernmost province of Ca Mau have fallen into the trap of a Chinese trader, who was later identified as Wang Juanmei, 39, who goes by the alias A Kieu.
Police said A Kieu had been temporarily residing in the town to buy crabs from local farmers before they were swindled in early March with a debt borrowed from some farmers worth VND6 billion.
Tran Ngoc Dat is the largest creditor of A Kieu, with VND1.8 billion in crab purchases.
“I sold him VND100 million worth of crabs, and he only paid 30 percent of the sum in advance, saying the rest would be cleared when he received the products.
“But later he told me to continue selling crabs to him before he cleared the old debt.
“The process had been repeated many times before he ended up defaulting,” said Dat.
Dat said other crab traders in his neighborhood also lost money to A Kieu.
The total amount of money defaulted on could be as high as VND10 billion (US$480,000), the Nam Can police department said.