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Xi Arrives in Serbia to Bolster Relations With Europe’s East



Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Serbia on the second leg of his European tour as he sought to tighten Beijing’s embrace of the Balkan nation in contrast with a more difficult relationship with most of Europe. 

Xi Arrives in Serbia to Bolster Relations With Europe’s East

The Chinese leader landed in Belgrade on Tuesday night, and was greeted by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and most of the government ministers. Xi completed a two-day trip to France, where he held talks with President Emmanuel Macron as the European Union takes a tougher stance on trade with China. 

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In Serbia, Xi will aim to bolster economic and political ties with a country that’s thrown open its arms to Chinese trade and investment. He will finish up his five-day trip with a stop in Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban stands nearly alone among EU leaders in drawing closer to China. 

Xi said in a statement after landing in Belgrade that China-Serbia cooperation “serves the fundamental and long-term interests of both countries.” He added that he looked forward to speaking with Vucic about relations between their nations “and other issues of mutual interest.”

His visit coincides with the 25th anniversary of the deadly US bombing of the Chinese embassy during the 1999 NATO operation aimed at pushing Yugoslav troops out of Kosovo. That event, which the White House later called a mistake and blamed on faulty maps, triggered widespread protests in China.

Xi vowed to “never forget” the bombing in an article published Tuesday in Politika, Serbia’s oldest daily newspaper. “Twenty-five years ago today, NATO flagrantly bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, killing three Chinese journalists,” Xi said.

Read More: Xi Says China Will ‘Never Forget’ the US Bombing of Its Embassy

Chinese and Serbian flags fluttered along the highway leading to the city center ahead of the meetings on Wednesday, when the two sides are expected to sign as many as 30 agreements, the government in Belgrade said without elaborating.

Xi’s trip will highlight projects such as the new high-speed railway linking Belgrade to Budapest. Direct Chinese investment in Hungary and Serbia exceeds $15 billion with more coming, ranging from car battery plants in Hungary to copper mining in Serbia. 

“We are completely open to Chinese investment,” Serbian Deputy Premier Sinisa Mali told state broadcaster RTS shortly before Xi’s arrival. “China is one of the two biggest powers in the world, and Xi is the most important statesman coming to Serbia in the last several years.” 

Read More: China’s Billions Help Xi Make Useful Friends in Eastern Europe

Xi on Monday also met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who told him that the EU is prepared to deploy all tools available to defend its economies if China fails to offer fair access to its markets. She drove home the EU’s position that heavily subsidized Chinese products such as electric vehicles and steel are flooding Europe. 

With assistance from Jing Li and Philip Glamann.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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