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China-Serbia free trade agreement to take effect on July 1 中塞自贸协定将于7月1日生效

Release time:2024-05-09 16:50 Click volume:325501


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Tens of thousands of Serbian people chant “China! Serbia!” while waving Chinese and Serbian national flags as they welcome the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Belgrade on May 8, 2024. Photo: Xinhua

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday signed a joint statement on building a community with shared future in the new era in Belgrade, making Serbia the first European country to build such a community with China.

 

In the joint statement, the two countries decided to deepen and elevate the China-Serbia comprehensive strategic partnership. Serbia was the first Central and Eastern European country to become China's comprehensive strategic partner eight years ago.

 

"It is a strategic choice made by both sides to build a China-Serbia community with a shared future in the new era. Its goal is to realize the aspiration of the two peoples for a better life. Its foundation and driving force come from the firm support and extensive participation of the two peoples," Xi told reporters during a joint press conference with Vucic.

 

Xi also announced six measures to support the building of a China-Serbia community with a shared future.

 

China is ready to import more quality and distinctive agricultural products from Serbia. China welcomes Serbia to increase direct flights between Belgrade and Shanghai, and encourages airlines from both sides to launch direct flights between Belgrade and Guangzhou.

 

The Chinese side will aid 50 young Serbian scientists in exchange programs with China for the next three years and a total of 300 Serbian youths will be invited to study in China in the next three years, said Xi.

 

China supports Serbia in hosting Expo 2027, and will send a delegation to participate in the grand show. China encourages its enterprises to take part in the construction of relevant projects, Xi said.

 

With joint efforts from China and Serbia, the free trade agreement between the two countries will take effect on July 1, Xi said.

 

During his talks with Vucic on Wednesday in Belgrade, Xi said bilateral relations between China and Serbia are richer in content and have become a model of friendly relations between China and European countries.

 

Xi called on China and Serbia to carry forward the innovative nature of bilateral relations, open up new prospects for cooperation, and make innovative cooperation a new growth point of bilateral ties.

 

Xi was greeted by tens of thousands of Serbians on Wednesday and a welcoming ceremony was held outside the Palace of Serbia before the meeting between the two leaders.

 

Chinese national flags and Chinese-language welcoming banners were hanging on landmark buildings in Belgrade on Wednesday.  

 

Chinese and Serbian experts said the meeting between the two heads of state will continue to provide high-level guidance to the sound development of bilateral relationship for the years to come and further inject vitality into the time-weathered, ironclad friendship.

 

Ironclad friendship

 

On Tuesday, a signed article by President Xi titled "May the Light of Our Ironclad Friendship Shine on the Path of China-Serbia Cooperation" was published in Serbian media Politika.   

 

Xi noted in the article that "there has always been an affinity between Chinese and Serbian peoples despite the long distance between us. During the bitter Anti-Fascist War and our respective nation-building in the last century, the Chinese and Serbian peoples forged a strong friendship that extends through time and space."

 

"Amid the ongoing transformations unseen in a century in the world, our mutual support remains as strong as ever, our cooperation is closer, and our exchanges and mutual learning more substantive. Whatever changes in the international landscape, China and Serbia remain true friends and good partners. Our ironclad friendship is ever-growing, setting a model for state-to-state and people-to-people interactions," Xi wrote.

 

Xi said China and Serbia should always be good friends and treat each other with sincerity, good partners for win-win cooperation, play an exemplary role in promoting fairness and justice and strengthen the heart-to-heart connection between their two peoples.

 

With China's support, hundreds of kilometers of highways have been built, the fastest railway in Eastern Europe entered operation, and energy facilities keep renewing, Boyan Lalic, Director of the Belt and Road Institute Belgrade, told the Global Times Wednesday.

 

The China-built high-speed railway connecting Belgrade to Novi Sad, inexpensive and comfortable, has cut the previously 1.5-hour trip to just 36 minutes, making a two-city life possible for many young people seeking opportunities, the Global Times learned.

 

The railway is part of a more ambitious project linking Belgrade and Budapest, the capital of Hungary, which could finish construction as early as 2025. The project has created jobs, offered unique career experience and trainings, and has allowed people like Serbian engineer Aleksandra Milosavljevic to "make really good friends with my Chinese colleagues."

 

Join hands on international stage

 

In the signed article, Xi wrote "Twenty-five years ago today, NATO flagrantly bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia ... This we should never forget. The Chinese people cherish peace, but we will never allow such tragic history to repeat itself."

 

The China-Serbia friendship, forged with the blood of our compatriots, will stay in the shared memory of the Chinese and Serbian peoples, and will inspire us to march forward with big strides, Xi wrote.

 

Dong Yifan, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that both China and Serbia adhere to independence and non-alignment in their strategic approaches, choosing to follow their own development paths and opposing hegemony. "We share a strong consensus in international affairs."

 

The last stop of Xi's three-nation European trip is Hungary, during which a series of cooperation agreements are expected to be signed, according to media reports.

 

Both Serbia and Hungary are pillar countries in China-proposed BRI, and have long been at the forefront of European countries' relations with China with close cooperation, Dong said, adding that high-level diplomacy has played a key role in the two countries' relations with China.

 

He Zhigao, a research fellow with the Institute of European Studies of CASS, said that Serbia and Hungary "stand out" among European countries in regard to developing China ties partly because they can overcome some external restraints and make more independent decisions based on their own interests.

 

中国国家主席习近平与塞尔维亚总统亚历山大·武契奇于2024年5月8日在贝尔格莱德签署了一份关于建立新时代共同未来共同体的联合声明,标志着塞尔维亚成为首个与中国建立此类共同体的欧洲国家。此次声明加强了两国的全面战略伙伴关系,并宣布了六项措施,包括加强农产品贸易、支持科学家交流、鼓励航线开通等。此次合作将促进中塞双边贸易的发展,进一步加深了两国在政治和经济领域的联系。

 

习近平宣布,中国将从塞尔维亚进口更多优质特色农产品,并欢迎塞尔维亚增加贝尔格莱德至上海之间的直航航班,并鼓励双方航空公司开通贝尔格莱德至广州的直航航班。此外,中国还将在未来三年支持50名塞尔维亚年轻科学家到中国进行交流,并邀请300名塞尔维亚青年前往中国学习。同时,中国支持塞尔维亚举办2027年世博会,并将派出代表团参加盛会,鼓励中国企业参与相关项目的建设。

 

习近平在与武契奇的会谈中表示,中塞之间的双边关系丰富多彩,成为中国与欧洲国家友好关系的典范。此次合作不仅将推动双方的经济增长,也有助于维护地区和平与稳定。

 

在签署的文章中,习近平还提到了中国与塞尔维亚之间的“铁杆友谊”,并呼吁双方始终保持诚实友好的关系,加强人民之间的联系。他还回顾了两国在基建方面的合作成果,特别是中国援建的高速铁路项目,这些项目的建设为塞尔维亚的经济发展和民生改善做出了重要贡献。

 

习近平的欧洲之行的最后一站是匈牙利,据媒体报道,预计将签署一系列合作协议。匈牙利与塞尔维亚一样,都是中国“一带一路”倡议的支柱国家,长期以来一直与中国保持着密切合作关系。

 

 

 

 

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