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EU Calls for Probe Into Vietnamese Workers in Serbia

EU Parliament demands that officials be granted access to the Shandong Linglong Tire factory, where 500 Vietnamese workers are employed, amid concerns over forced labour

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A Linglong representative signs a sponsorship deal with German football club VfL Wolfsburg. Photo: Shandong Linglong Tire

 

The European parliament on Thursday called for an inquiry into allegations that Vietnamese workers were trafficked into Serbia and then subjected to forced labour in a Chinese-run factory.

A parliamentary resolution, passed by 586 votes to 53, calls on the Serbian authorities “to investigate the case carefully and ensure respect for fundamental human rights in the factory”.

It also called for EU officials to be granted full and free access to the Shandong Linglong Tire factory in Zrenjanin, a city of about 75,000 people in northern Serbia, and to the lodging facilities of the 500 Vietnamese workers employed there.

China has invested billions in Serbia – an EU membership candidate nation since 2012 – and neighbouring Balkan countries in recent years, hoping to expand its economic footprint in central Europe.

 

Courting Chinese Investors

Serbia has been quick to cash in on China’s interest, as it seeks to court a range of investors amid the ongoing tug of war between the East and West over influence in the Balkans.

But Belgrade has repeatedly been accused of giving Chinese-owned companies a free hand in how they run their operations.

Critics from civil society, human rights groups and in the media say the Belgrade government has turned a blind eye to environmental concerns and potential human rights violations.

Workers at the tyre factory told AFP that their passports had been confiscated. “We are living as if we were in jail,” one said in November.

Serbian leaders have rejected the accusations of malfeasance at Linglong.

  • AFP, with George Russell.

 

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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