The Serbian Interior Ministry bans public gatherings by Serbian followers of the Chinese religious group Falun Gong


Serbia is raising security measures to the highest level ahead of Friday’s ‘historic’ arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

More than 5,000 police officers, members of the security services and the army are on standby to secure Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stay during his visit to Serbia from June 17 to 19.

The security measures will be raised to the highest possible level, the so-called first stage, which was also the case when Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel visited.

Chinese security officials and sniper forces will also be included in the Chinese President’s safety team in Belgrade.

Sources from the Serbian Army told BIRN that special attention has been given to the securing his arrival from the air. Serbian military pilots will follow the Chinese plane after it enters Serbian airspace.

Dragan Bogosavac, Chief of Traffic Police for the City of Belgrade, said that the traffic will be closed in some streets while the President is in town.

The Serbian Interior Ministry has also banned gatherings by Serbian followers of the Chinese religious group Falun Gong, according to YUKOM, the Belgrade-based Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights.

Falung Gong was outlawed in China in 1999 and its followers are routinely persecuted in the country.

Members of the cult had planned protests on Friday near the Palace of Serbia, where a meeting with the Chinese President will take place, and on Saturday on the city’s main square and in front of the Chinese embassy.

Members of Falun Gong said they wanted to publicly practice meditation and appeal to the President to stop the persecution of the cult’s members in China.

However, the Interior Ministry banned the requested rallies, citing a “justified possibility that supporters of Falun Gong and nationals of PR China could clash”.

The Chinese President’s visit forms part of moves to boost Chinese trading relations with Serbia and increase China’s presence in the Balkans and Europe.

The first visit by a Chinese head of state in more than 30 years has been widely hailed in Serbia as “historic.”

During his three-day stay, starting Friday, Xi will meet top officials and visit the steel plant at Smederevo, purchased by a Chinese company.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said the Chinese leader’s visit would be extremely important for the country.

“Serbia will sign 24 cooperation agreements with China – such a number has never been the case during any world leaders’ visit to our country,” he said.

“Those agreements include not only those at national level, but also focus on the economy, investment and cultural exchanges,” Nikolic added.

“China’s investment is of great importance to us and could solve a variety of problems which we can hardly deal with by ourselves,” he continued.

The Chinese President in an authored article in the Serbian daily Politika said he was looking forward to broadening cooperation with a “friendly country.

“I expect to talk with President Nikolic and other Serbian leaders  about our friendship, cooperation plans … and jointly raise our strategic partnership to a new level,” Jinping wrote on Wednesday.

On the first day of the visit, Nikolic and Xi will lay the cornerstone for the Chinese cultural centre in Belgrade and unveil a monument to Confucius and plaques with the names of the Confucius Street and the Square of Serbian-Chinese friendship.

The two presidents will afterwards lay wreaths at a memorial to Chinese embassy staffers killed in the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, the Serbian President’s press office announced.

On the second day of the visit, meetings between the two presidents and the two delegations will be held and a large number of bilateral agreements signed.

Nikolic will present Xi with the Order of the Republic of Serbia, after which Xi will meet with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, delegation members and Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic.

At the end of the visit, Nikolic and Xi will tour the Smederevo steel mill, where they will be hosted by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.



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