BELGRADE: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday (Jun 18) backed Serbia’s bid to join the European Union during a visit to the country which aims to become a hub for Chinese imports into southeast Europe.
“China will support Serbia’s effort to join the European Union,” one of the Balkan state’s foreign policy priorities, Xi said after talks with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic in Belgrade, during which the two countries signed a raft of cooperation deals, mainly in infrastructure and agriculture.
Xi said Serbia had an key role to play in China’s “One Belt, One Road” plan, which has been touted as a revival of the ancient Silk Road trade route.
Two years ago, China completed construction of a brand new bridge over the Danube river in Belgrade, its first infrastructure project in Europe.
Beijing has been participating in a number of infrastructure projects in the region, including a new rail link between Belgrade and Hungary’s capital Budapest, hoping to facilitate the transport of Chinese goods into central and eastern Europe.
Xi’s visit comes two months after China’s HBIS, the world’s third-biggest steel producer, bought Serbia’s sole steel mill and largest exporter Zelezara Smederevo for €46 million (US$52 million). He is to visit the plant on Sunday.
Nikolic thanked his g…