BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Monitoring: Media reports
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Monday, 12 February, 2001, 21:07 GMT
Little China in Belgrade
Chinese on bike
There has been little conflict between Serbs and immigrants
Nobody knows exactly how many Chinese people have moved to Belgrade in the past four years, but estimates put the number at between 75,000 and 100,000.

The massive flow of immigrants to Serbia started after a visit to China in 1997 by former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his wife, Mira Markovic.

Ms Markovic happened to think aloud about what a Belgrade Chinatown would be like, and no further invitation was needed.

The entire population of the Chinese village of Jincun in Zhejiang province has moved to Belgrade

Vecernje Novosti
The rumour at the time was that Mr Milosevic imported over 50,000 Chinese people and gave them Yugoslav passports so that they could vote for him in elections as support from Yugoslavs crumbled.

Other versions say the Chinese arrive in the guise of students on phoney language courses.

Ordinary Belgraders have mixed feelings about the invasion.

They are happy to buy the products the Chinese import, and rival Chinese gangs largely keep their turf wars to themselves.

But they also see them as an increasingly irrelevant legacy of the Milosevic years and watch bemused as entire neighbourhoods become almost exclusively Chinese.

Protests followed the 1999 Nato bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade

The newspaper, Vecernje Novosti, says one part of town in particular has had a complete Chinese village transplanted into it.

"The entire population of the Chinese village of Jincun in Zhejiang province has moved to Belgrade, specifically to Blok 70 in the suburb of Novi Beograd."

Novi Beograd, or New Belgrade, is a soulless expanse of housing estates, home to perhaps half a million people.

So the influx of 100,000 Chinese, settling in tightly-packed groups, is difficult to miss.

"Novi Beograd's Blok 70 is a veritable Chinese oasis," Vecernje Novosti writes.

"The Chinese are not foreigners there. The entire shopping mall belongs to them."

"They also have a monopoly on the goods which they sell to traders from all parts of Serbia."

Trading is strictly under the control of two main families, the paper writes.

We didn't really have xenophobia here, because we didn't really have any foreigners

"Not even the tiniest trinket, let alone something that could bring them the profit they dream about, can come in there and be sold without the supervision of the two most powerful families in the area, Deng and Wang."

To date there has been remarkably little conflict between Serbs and Chinese immigrants.

We didn't really have xenophobia here, because we didn't really have any foreigners, Belgraders say.

But there were rumblings of unease even during the Milosevic years, the paper says.

Two years ago the Yugoslav Federal Customs Administration decided to look into whether foreign currency transactions carried out by the Chinese were strictly legal.

What they found, by means of a partial audit, was that Chinese traders had taken over $1bn in cash out of Yugoslavia in 1998 alone.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

08 May 99 | Europe
Nato hits Chinese embassy
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Media reports stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Media reports stories