Serbia Embraces ‘Shared Future’ with China

Arriving from France, Chinese President Xi Jinping received a warm welcome from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic upon his landing in the capital Belgrade on 7 May 2024. The Chinese side underlined that the visit occurs during 25th anniversary of the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

China and Serbia elevated their relationship to the level of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and President Xi highlighted that the two countries are part of the ‘Community of Shared Future in the New Era’. Serbia has applied for #EU membership, but does not contemplate to join #NATO.

During the last Belt and Road (#BRI) Summit in 2023, Serbia and China signed a Free Trade Agreement (#FTA). Several Chinese companies have invested in Serbia, including home appliances manufacturer Hisense, mining company Zijin Copper and tire maker Linglong. The Belgrade-Budapest railway is being upgraded thanks to Chinese financing and expertise.

Serbia is a relatively small country of 7 million people, but nevertheless enjoys an ‘ironclad relationship’ with China. Bilateral trade volume reached USD 6 billion in 2023.

Relatively modest investments by China can have a huge impact on the Serbian economy. Thus, some years after China invested to revive an old steel mill, the mill has now become of one the top three biggest export companies in Serbia.

During this visit of President Xi, some 29 agreements were concluded between China and Serbia. The bilateral cooperation spanned legal, commercial and cultural domains.

One of the new projects is a proposed new BYD factory for #EV. The move is widely seen as a strategic investment to sidestep sanctions that EU is contemplating to slap on #EV made in China. In order to further strengthen ties, President Xi expressed the hope to see direct flights between China and Serbia soon.