China, Serbia open new chapter of ties

2024-05-09 08:17:24China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

President Xi Jinping and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic underscored their shared commitment to building a China-Serbia community with a shared future in the new era as the two nations upgraded their ironclad partnership on Wednesday.

The two heads of state signed a joint statement on the building of a China-Serbia community with a shared future in the new era, making Serbia the first European country to build such a community with China, after their talks at the Palace of Serbia, the seat of the Serbian government.

In his first state visit to Belgrade in eight years, the Chinese president was offered a grand welcome, including a guard of honor, a 10-gun salute and a grand introduction by Vucic at a rally of 15,000 people gathered in front of the palace.

Serbia, after France, is the second stop on Xi's first visit to Europe in five years. The Chinese president left Belgrade for the Hungarian capital Budapest on Wednesday night.

Xi described the elevation of the ties as "opening a new chapter in China-Serbia relations".

The building of a China-Serbia community with a shared future in the new era represents the elevation of the ironclad friendship, and it also embodies the shared values and goals of both sides, he pointed out.

"Eight years ago, Serbia became China's first comprehensive strategic partner in Central and Eastern Europe. Today, Serbia becomes the first European country to build a community with a shared future with China. This speaks volumes about the strategic, special and high-level relationship between the two countries," Xi said while he and Vucic met with the media.

Xi announced a range of measures to support the building of a China-Serbia community with a shared future.

A bilateral free-trade agreement will take effect on July 1, while Beijing will support Belgrade in hosting the Expo 2027 and send a delegation to attend the event.

Xi also welcomed the opening of direct flights from Belgrade to Shanghai, saying that the two countries' airlines will be encouraged to open more direct flights.

"China supports Serbia in upholding its independence and following the development path that suits its own conditions. We will support Serbia in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Kosovo issue," he said.

"The two sides will continue to advocate fairness and justice and jointly oppose hegemonism and power politics," he told reporters.

During their talks, Xi called Vucic "my dear friend", saying that his visit in 2016 was still fresh in his memory.

He noted the "gratifying progress" in Belt and Road cooperation between China and Serbia. The Balkan country was home to the first bridge and the first highway constructed by Chinese companies in Europe, while the opening of the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the 350-kilometer Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway in 2022 shortened the travel time for local residents.

Vucic said that China is the sincerest friend of Serbia, and President Xi is a great world leader.

The people of Serbia are filled with gratitude and respect toward China, especially President Xi, and they feel deeply proud and honored to have such a great country like China as a steadfast friend, he said.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of cooperation documents covering the Belt and Road, green development, the digital economy, information and telecommunications, and agri-food after their talks.


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