The Chinese are building the Shandong Linglong Tire Co. car tire factory in Serbia, where Vietnamese work in inhumane conditions, deprived of passports and other documents and money, AP writes on Saturday. Belgrade, however, does not want to endanger Beijing and take care of working conditions.
About 500 people are working in terrible conditions at the Shandong Linglong construction site. They have only received one salary since May, live in bunk beds, without mattresses, in unheated barracks. They want to return to Vietnam, but they have no documents, and the local authorities do not want to help them.
The tire factory was proclaimed by the Serbs and the Chinese as a symbol of the “strategic partnership” of both countries. Meanwhile, human rights organizations report that Chinese workers are people who have been smuggled into Serbia and are likely to work like slaves.
The Linglong management did not respond to the PA’s request for comment, but denied reports by humanitarian organizations in the Serbian media.
On Friday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, referring to the accusations of the NGOs, said: “What do they want? Let us destroy the investment worth $ 900 million?”
In recent years, China has invested billions of euros in the Serbian economy, mostly in the form of low-interest loans and investments in energy and infrastructure projects.
Beijing considers Serbia to be part of the global Belt and Road Initiative, a logistics project promoted by Beijing to boost international trade and expand China’s economic sphere.
In March 2020, Serbia purchased a new generation FK-3 medium-range air defense missile system from China.
When Chinese vaccines against Covid-19 appeared, Serbia became a leader in vaccination in Europe, thanks to supplies from China, from where it imported most of the preparations. Experts then pointed to the geopolitical aspect of the rapprochement between Belgrade and Beijing, which is the chance to increase the influence of China and Russia in the Balkans at the expense of the EU.
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