Serbia hosts Xi Jinping on 25th anniversary of NATO bombing of Chinese embassy

Xi Jinping and Aleksandar Vucic
Xi Jinping and Aleksandar Vucic

Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Serbia on the 25th anniversary of accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade by NATO forces, Reuters reported on May 8.

Xi Jinping met Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to discuss China's multibillion-dollar investments and potential new agreements. This visit is part of Xi Jinping's first European tour in five years, including stops in France and Hungary.

“Today we are writing history,” Vucic said.

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Both leaders expressed pride in the partnership between their nations, according to Reuters.

Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed Serbia as the strongest supporter of China's One Belt, One Road infrastructure initiative in Europe and Asia.

Xi Jinping expressed gratitude for the warm reception and hoped his visit would mark a new chapter in bilateral relations.

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"Serbia became China's first strategic partner in Central and Eastern Europe," Xi Jinping noted, referencing the 2016 strategic partnership agreement.

President Vucic affirmed Serbia's stance, considering Taiwan part of China, akin to China's view on Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.

NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy

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NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy occurred on May 7, 1999, during the Alliance's operation in former Yugoslavia to halt Slobodan Milosevic's repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

On that day, a JDAM guided bomb destroyed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, resulting in the deaths of three Chinese journalists and injuries to 20 Chinese citizens.

NATO contends the bombing targeted the Federal Supply Office, involved in arms import-export, located near the Chinese embassy. However, NATO denies reliance on outdated maps, given the embassy's construction in 1993.

Xi Jinping's visit to Europe

Xi Jinping embarked on his European tour on May 5, intending to visit France, Serbia, and Hungary by May 10.

Upon arriving in Paris on May 5, he conferred with President Macron, endorsing Macron's proposal for a ceasefire in Ukraine, Gaza, and Sudan during the Olympic Games in Paris.

Macron revealed after their meeting that China pledged to refrain from arms sales to Russia.

In Serbia, Xi Jinping planned to engage with President Vucic, aiming to discuss bilateral relations and enhance Sino-Serbian ties. Ahead of the Chinese leader's visit on May 4, Vucic lauded China as Serbia's top partner in pursuing national objectives and affirmed Serbia's recognition of Taiwan as part of China.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban aims to bolster economic relations with China, expanding Hungary's involvement in the One Belt, One Road initiative, enhancing rail modernization projects, and financing a new oil pipeline linking Hungary to Serbia, according to Hungarian MP Gergely Gulyás.

Xi Jinping is slated to depart from Hungary on May 10.

Reuters additionally noted that the Chinese leader's visit aims to fortify ties with the EU amidst escalating tensions.

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