The Forum for Ethnic Relations reminded that the increased economic and diplomatic cooperation between our country and the PRC has in recent years brought thousands of Chinese citizens to our country. Vast majority of Chinese citizens have come to work, primarily trade, and for others, our country is stop on their way to other countries of our region and European Union. Starting with belief that the attitude toward the Chinese in our country is a measure of democracy and our readiness to be an equal participant in the contemporary world, especially European integration, and with the aim of eliminating discrimination and human rights violations and establishing the rule of law, we point out that this process is overshadowed by legal obscurity and uncertainty of the status of Chinese citizens and businesses in our country. This jeopardizes the interests of Chinese migrants, Chinese capital, and the people of PRC, as well as the economic, social and security interests of our country.
Instead of being equal participants in the economic and social life of our country, Chinese citizens are forced, whether by acting and omitting to act by certain authorities, to reside, do business, and behave in illegal manner. Chinese citizens are prey to various shady intermediaries, legal protectors, and racketeering. This only helps illegal / grey economy and further criminalization of our society.
A large part of the responsibility lies with the former federal government, but the new government did not take any serious steps to resolve the issue of the status, rights and obligations of Chinese citizens and businesses in our country. We draw your attention to the following major gaps:
First, the provisions of the Federal Foreign Investment Act and Conclusions of the Inter-Government Commission on Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of PR of China and FRY, established in 1996, are being applied inconsistently and are often violated. To date, there is no public written record of the establishment and operation of the aforementioned Commission. In practice, outside written and public documents, the position of Chinese legal and natural persons in the process of an investment or opening a business depends on the “nod” from powerful individuals of the former regime. What inspires concern is that the new government follows this practice as well. Rules that actually apply solely to Chinese legal and natural persons, and not other foreigners and businesses, are:
– the establishment of private, mixed and trading companies with a major Chinese share requires the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, individually for each Chinese legal or natural person,
– to register changes in the company’s business, share increase, change of directors, change of founders, approval of the Ministry is required.
For Chinese businesses and citizens these rules create direct dependence on decisions by the federal administration. This is an irrefutable discrimination against Chinese citizens. There is a pervasive belief that undefined and insecure status of Chinese citizens who reside and work in our country is a source of unlawful gains and other profits for government representatives from the federal to local levels. There are no public records on anyone being charged or prosecuted for such actions!
The obligation of the vice-president of the Federal Government, Dr Miroljub Labus, to inform the Government, the Assembly and the public what has been done in the course of their work to change this situation, and to open our country for free movement of people, goods and capital.
Secondly, the stay of Chinese citizens in our country is largely governed by the tourist visa regime. This puts Chinese citizens in an unsafe position during their stay in our country and makes every business activity illegal. That is why our country has made itself unable to fulfill its own obligations from numerous international instruments as well as from intergovernmental treaties, including the commitment to regularly inform the PRC government about the number of Chinese citizens staying in our country. Nothing has changed in the last few months. With that, we ask a question to the federal minister of interior Zoran Živković what has been done to change this unsustainable situation that represents a security risk for our country? We also call upon the Government of the Republic of Serbia, in particular the Minister of Interior Dušan Mihajlović, to inform the public about the measures undertaken to regulate the stay of Chinese and other foreign nationals in accordance with the standards related to human rights and freedoms.
Thirdly, the Federal law has failed to regulate the minority rights of citizens who regularly reside in our country, and applicable international standards were ignored. Also, there is no evidence of serious efforts taken by the Federal ministry of National and Ethnic Communities or other responsible institutions to create and pursue policies for combating racism and opening up of our country. There are also no examples of proper government responses to numerous actcks of racist violence against Chinese citizens in our country. We therefore propose to the competent authorities, as well as representatives of OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the UN operating in our country to analyze this phenomenon and to prepare appropriate measures or recommendations for the application of international standards related to the status of foreign or Chinese citizens residing in our country.
We recommend to the public and the authorities to undertake the following measures:
– to establish appropriate Government commission at federal level to examine the situation in this area, the work and results of members of the Government, in particular violations by members of the former and the present Federal administration as well as to inform the Federal Assembly and the public of its findings,
– in order to protect Serbian interests, the Government of the Republic of Serbia should take active part in solving these problems, prepare necessary and comprehensive revision of the legal standards on the stay and work authorization regime for foreign nationals,
– to establish an efficient legislation on minorities at the Republic level, which will enable citizens – members of minorities who are residing regularly in Serbia, but do not have the citizenship, to set up their own educational institutions (kindergartens and schools), cultural institutions and newspapers, which will be funded by members of a given minority community, their native countries, and partly from the funds collected from these citizens in the budget of Serbia through tax, customs and other instruments.
We underline that it is necessary to solve these problems before they become more complicated, because that is the best way to forestall the further spread of intolerance and hatred towards the Chinese and other minorities. After all, it is the responsibility of the authorities to prepare Serbia’s public for the close future when our country will be a part of the modern Europe, a society of people of different races, religion and ethnic background.