Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chinese in Yugoslavia Find New Solidarity with Hosts

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chinese in Yugoslavia Find New Solidarity with Hosts

Article excerpt

On Saturday, the day after at least three people were killed when a NATO strike destroyed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, several hundred Chinese gathered in front of the gutted building and improvised one of the rowdiest demonstrations of the past few weeks. Chanting virulent anti-NATO slogans, they marched across the main bridge to the Square of the Republic, where the Belgraders have been holding daily protests.

All along the way, people stopped to cheer them on, flashing the three-fingered salute of Serb solidarity. At one point, a Serb woman reached for a young Chinese boy and pulled him in a matronly embrace. To many, the gesture came to symbolize a newfound solidarity - at least in the near term - between peoples whose only point of contact involves a commercial transaction of some sort. There are as many as 20,000 Chinese living in Serbia and Montenegro. They are the largest non-European minority community in Yugoslavia. Many run small businesses: restaurants and shops that sell everything from raw silk to lighters and gadgets. They come mostly for five- to 10-year periods, hoping to use Yugoslavia as a transit point to other, wealthier European destinations. "Everyone wants to go to Italy, France, England, and Holland," says Yang Hao, a small-business owner who has been in Belgrade for two years and is now working all the connections he has toward returning to China and leaving the war behind. He says he chose Belgrade because "it was easy." Visa requirements are not as strict as in other countries, he says, and for that reason he left China with his wife and only son to "make some money and move on." Roots of a relationship Yugoslavia and China have had good relations dating back to the start of the cold war, when Communist dictator Josip Broz Tito tried to strike a balance between East and West. …

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