• international relations

CGTN: A new chapter: China, Serbia continue to deepen cooperation

PRNewswire May 9, 2024

BEIJING, May 8, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Recently, a reply from Chinese President Xi Jinping excited and inspired the workers from HBIS Smederevo Steel Plant in Serbia. Responding to their previous letter, Xi encouraged them to make new contributions to the China-Serbia friendship. 

Thirty Serbian workers from the steel plant wrote a letter to Xi, explaining recent developments at the plant and expressing their gratitude for his support in the rebirth of the iconic factory.

Established in 1913 in the city of Smederevo, the steel plant was once hailed as “the pride of Serbia.” Since the late 1990s, however, the plant was on the verge of closure until Chinese investment arrived in 2016. In the same year, Xi visited the plant and met with its workers.

Thanks to China’s advanced technology and management systems, the plant became profitable and has now become one of the three biggest exporters in Serbia.

An ironclad friendship

Xi arrived in Belgrade on Tuesday to pay his second state visit to Serbia, and expectations are running high that the ironclad friendship between the two nations will be further enriched and strengthened. 

In a signed article published on Tuesday on Serbia’s media, Xi said China and Serbia remain true friends and good partners, regardless of changes in the international landscape.

“Our ironclad friendship is ever-growing, setting a model for state-to-state and people-to-people interactions,” Xi said in the article.

Xi noted in the article that the two countries should promote multidimensional people-to-people and cultural exchanges and diversify sub-national cooperation.

“We should make good use of the combined effect of ‘mutual visa exemption plus direct flights,’ as well as our respective cultural centers, to promote cooperation in education, sports, culture and tourism,” Xi said, adding that more opportunities for the youth should be created so that the China-Serbia friendship can be carried forward from generation to generation.

Momentum of cooperation

Serbia is China’s first free trade partner in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2023, China became Serbia’s largest source of foreign investment and its second-largest trading partner. Serbian honey, red wine, beef, lamb and other agricultural products have grown popular among Chinese consumers.

“Our thriving cooperation in trade and economic relations, industrial chain and infrastructure development lends a great boost to our respective process of modernization,” Xi said in the article.

The Chinese president said the two countries should further unleash the potential of mutually beneficial cooperation, deliver on the mid-term action plan for cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, and build more flagship projects.

“We should expand cooperation in technological innovation, advanced manufacturing, green energy, digital economy, artificial intelligence and other emerging areas,” he said.

In a written speech upon his arrival in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, Xi said he looks forward to having an in-depth exchange of views with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on the bilateral relationship and other issues of mutual interest.

“I am confident that this visit will be a fruitful one and will open up a new chapter in China-Serbia relations,” Xi said in the speech. 



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