Reaction to EU Parliament Resolution on forced labour in Serbia’s Linglong tyre factory and environmental protests in Serbia

Human rights and forced labour allegations at Serbia's Linglong tyre factory.
Vietnamese Linglong workers at workers’ compound in Serbia receiving aid from NGOs. Photo: Nils Resare for Just Finance International

Brussels, 16 December 2021: Reacting to the passing of an EU Parliament vote on an urgent resolution on forced Vietnamese labour in Serbia’s Linglong tyre factory, and environmental protests in Serbia [1], Wawa Wang, program director of Just Finance International, said:

“The overwhelming majority of Members of the European Parliament today recognised there is a rule-of-law problem for Chinese companies operating in Serbia, as exemplified in the forced labour in Linglong tyre factory. With the passing of this resolution the European Parliament has made clear that Chinese companies operating in Serbia can no longer be the exception to the rule, and need to comply with the law governing transparency, environmental and labour standards.’’

In January 2021, 26 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) across five political groups wrote to the European Union’s enlargement commission, Oliver Varheyli, expressing concerns for the weakening of the law and environmental degradation caused by Chinese companies operating in coal, steel, mining and tyre production in Serbia. [2]

Serbian NGOs have shared evidence to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, an expert body under the United Nations that monitors states’ compliance with the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as recent as 2019 on how the Serbian state is failing labour standards and the rights of migrants, refugees and migrant workers.

“The cases investigated and identified by local Serbian NGOs point to a systemic institutional incompetency where human lives are sacrificed for the gain of the few, in this context, the Chinese companies”, said Wang.

“In 2021, together with Western Balkan NGOs, Just Finance International testified to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that China is not fulfilling its extraterritorial obligations [3] , while Chinese companies and state entities such as banks are continuing to finance coal plants, coal mine, steel production and copper mine operations that have been found to violate legal requirements specific to access to information and environmental protection in Serbia and Southeast Europe’’, she said.  

Nils Resare, senior investigative researcher of Just Finance International, who has investigated the Linglong case and other Chinese projects in Serbia said, “several Chinese companies and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) operating in Serbia cause irreversible environmental, social impacts and human rights violations. It is essential that all investments are transparent and that Serbia obey the rule of law”.

ENDS

Contact:

Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, Just Finance International +34 691 826 764, press@justfinanceinternational.org

Notes:

[1] Joint Motion for A Resolution pursuant to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of the Rules of Procedure on Forced Labour in the Linglong Factory and Environmental Protests in Serbia (2021/3020(RSP)), December 14, 2021: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/RC-9-2021-0600_EN.html

Results of roll call votes – 16/12/2021 – First voting session

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/sed/doc/news/flash/26506/P9_PV(2021)12-16(RCV)_en.docx

[2] Joint letter by 27 Members of the European Parliament: The EU Must Strongly Address the Growing Chinese Influence in Serbia and the Impending Ecological Impacts Thereof, January 2021: https://lexmann.eu/the-eu-must-strongly-address-the-growing-chinese-influence-in-serbia-and-the-impending-ecological-impacts-thereof/ OR https://justfinanceinternational.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/China-Serbia-Industry-Joint-Letter-to-Commissioner-Varhelyi.pdf

[3] Info from Civil Society Organization (for List of Issues) to the UN CESCR, 2021: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=2424&Lang=en

Background information

Serbia’s pollution crisis in pictures, Just Finance International, October 2021:

Chinese investments is undercutting Serbian Rule of law, a legal memo, Just Finance International and Renewable Energy Research Institute, October 2021: https://justfinanceinternational.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/legal-memo-chinese-investment-in-serbia.pdf

Chinese companies in Serbia – disgraced in international operations, Just Finance International, April 2021:

China in the Balkans: Controversy and Cost – Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, October 2021:

https://balkaninsight.com/2021/12/15/china-in-the-balkans-controversy-and-cost/