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Xi Appeals To Serbian Sentiments Ahead Of Belgrade Visit

Hours before landing in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, China’s President Xi Jinping reminded his hosts through an article in the daily Politinviika about the US bombing of his country’s embassy 25 years ago. “The Chinese people value peace but will never allow such a historic tragedy to repeat itself,” the article read. Three Chinese journalists died in that attack, which the US says was accidental but Western reports had claimed that the embassy was being used to transmit Serbian army communications, and was therefore a target for Washington.

Rather dramatically the article noted “The blood both peoples have shed together,” which sentiment Xi is expected to use to underscore the Beijing-Belgrade commitment. Both countries signed a strategic partnership in 2016, and last year, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic signed 18 agreements in Beijing including a free trade deal set to take effect in July. Both leaders have since emphasised the “ironclad” nature of their relationship.

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The Serbia visit follows Xi’s first stop in Paris where held discussions with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. It’s not clear if he was moved by their demand for a more balanced trade relationship but he has agreed not to impose tariffs on French Cognac pending an anti-dumping investigation. There could also be concessions on import of French cosmetics given new Chinese laws demanding their IPRs. Xi may not find it difficult to meet their demands since he faces the prospect of Made in China EVs being targeted by the EU over charges of subsidies.