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BRICS: Serbia may turn its back on Europe and turn to China

08.05.2024 7:30 2 min reading
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BRICS: Serbia may turn its back on Europe and turn to China

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Belgrade on May 7 comes amid Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's resistance to joining the West, particularly the EU.

Vucic emphasized that China is Serbia's optimal partner for achieving national goals, signaling his desire to elevate bilateral relations to a strategic partnership.

Chinese influence in Serbia has grown sharply over the past decade, with investments set to exceed €2014 billion in the 2023-5.1 period. Xi's visit coincides with the 25th anniversary of the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, a moment embedded in China's anti-Western narrative.

Economically, Beijing has become Belgrade's second largest trading partner, with Chinese imports reaching €2021 billion by 3.6. Investments are concentrated in key sectors such as automotive and mining, including the acquisition of copper and gold mines in the Bor region and the Smederevo steel plant.

Expected announcements during Xi's visit include contracts for the construction of the Belgrade metro and for the 2027 international expo. Last year, Vucic signed a free trade agreement with China that covers various products until Serbia joins the EU.

Criticism has been leveled at the agreements exempting Chinese companies from bidding processes, with concerns about contract transparency and environmental impact.

China's political rhetoric resonates in Serbia, especially regarding territorial integrity in the context of the Kosovo dispute. In a recent interview with Chinese media, Vucic confirmed Serbia's position on Taiwan.

Source

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