Xi, Vucic strengthen bonds tying two nations

2024-05-10 08:22:33China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

In a splendid moment showcasing the spirit of camaraderie and solidarity, President Xi Jinping and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic walked side by side through the grand hall of the Palace of Serbia, emerging to a jubilant crowd of thousands gathered outside.

The scene at the palace on Wednesday was a vivid tableau of unity and eager anticipation, with the crowd — ranging from jovial children to elderly onlookers — erupting into cheers and waving flags of both nations as the two leaders appeared before them.

Addressing the people, Vucic said, "Today we are writing history, a day that will guide our future", emphasizing the strategic and emotional bonds tying the two nations.

Xi's visit to Belgrade, after his last trip to the Serbian capital eight years ago, underscores a burgeoning diplomatic relationship that both leaders described in profound and historic terms.

"I told President Xi that, as a leader and president of a great power, he will be respected everywhere in the world, but he will not find such respect and such love anywhere like here, in our Serbia," Vucic wrote in a social media post describing the interaction.

The warm welcome from the Serbian people profoundly touched the Chinese president, who told Vucic that he was deeply moved by the strong friendship the people of the Balkan country showed toward China and the Chinese people.

It was also a moment that epitomized the ironclad friendship between China and Serbia, which elevated their ties toward building a bilateral community with a shared future in an agreement signed on Wednesday.

When Xi and Vucic jointly met the media on Wednesday, the Serbian president could not hide his excitement.

"I'm not hiding my happiness today because it is exciting to have the president of the People's Republic of China twice in such a small country like ours within a span of eight years," he said.

"This is the biggest and highest level of cooperation between the two countries, and I'm proud that as the president of the Republic of Serbia, I could sign such a statement with President Xi," Vucic said, adding, "The ironclad friendship between Serbia and China will never be broken by anyone."

Xi underscored that the building of a bilateral community with a shared future "aims to meet the aspirations of Chinese and Serbian people for a better life, and will be underpinned and sustained by their firm support and extensive participation".

The ironclad ties between the two countries are not only underpinned by strong political mutual trust, but also by a shared commitment for building up economic ties and people-to-people exchanges.

China was the biggest investor of Serbia last year, as well as its second-largest trading partner, according to Serbian authorities.

Trade between the two nations went up eightfold over the past decade, while investment from China to Serbia increased thirty-fold.

Xi announced on Wednesday Beijing's six major steps to support the building of a China-Serbia community with a shared future, including a free trade agreement that takes effect on July 1, and measures to enable China's imports of dried prunes and blueberries from the European nation. New direct flights will be opened between Belgrade and major Chinese cities, he said.

Xi also mentioned the popularity in China of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic, basketball player Nikola Jokic and filmmaker Emir Kusturica during a welcoming banquet held by Vucic.

At the news conference, the Serbian president lauded the FTA with China as one that "guarantees the future of our country".

Under the agreement, close to 95 percent of Serbian products will be exported to China without tariffs.

Vucic said the FTA will give agricultural produce from Serbia, ranging from wine to beef, a favorable position in the Chinese market.

"I speak about the most ordinary things, but the things that are related to the lives and livelihoods of the people. This is what President Xi cares about. And that's why I'm really grateful to him," he said.

"Mr President, you can count on our friendship. You open the window of hope for us. I want to thank you immensely for this visit," Vucic said in his concluding remarks.


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