China's President Xi Jinping.jpg
Photograph: EPA/IORI SAGISAWA/POOL

Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Serbia on Friday for the start of a tour which will also take him to Poland and Uzbekistan to finalize a series of business and trade deals and boost relations with the three countries.

On Xi's agenda in Belgrade is the signing of nearly two dozen agreements, including a "strategic cooperation" deal, Serbian media cited Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic as saying. 

Some of the deals are a continuation of what was agreed in a December 2014 summit of China and 16 central and eastern European nations in Belgrade, when mostly infrastructure projects worth up to 10 billion dollars in Serbia alone were pledged, but not realized.

Despite being an Europe Union membership candidate, analysts say Serbia feels pressured by the West and is looking to Russia and China for diplomatic support, particularly in its efforts to block full international recognition of its runaway province Kosovo.

Xi's visit is "the crown of friendship between the two countries," said Stanislava Pak, advisor to Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic.

“China supports Serbia’s territorial integrity … and Serbia supports a one-China policy," Pak told state TV RTS. 

Xi was welcomed by Nikolic on Saturday at the airport and was later due to lay the cornerstone of a new Chinese Cultural Centre and present a monument to Confucius in the freshly-named Confucius Street.

He and Nikolic will also lay wreaths at the site where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, during its intervention against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999, accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy, killing three Chinese nationals.

"China and Serbia have given each other firm support on issues concerning their core interests, which shows the essence of a strategic relationship," Li Manchang, the Chinese ambassador to Serbia, told Xinhua news agency.

Li cited Serbian support for Beijing's so-called Belt and Road Initiative to enhance China's infrastructure links with Europe and Africa as an example. 

Related stories

Latest news

Earthquake rocks buildings in northern Zambia; no injuries reported

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck Zambia and neighbouring countries early Friday, the US Geological Survey reported.

China overtook US, France as Germany's top trading partner in 2016

China overtook the United States as Germany's biggest trading partner in 2016, according to data provided by the Federal Statistics Office on Friday.

Orban upset by end of Budapest 2024 bid; IOC to ponder adjustments

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday reiterated his regret about the end of his nation's Olympic dream while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) could further revise future bid campaigns in the wake of Budapest's withdrawal.

Italy seizes millions from dodgy Rome businessman

Italian police on Friday seized assets worth 40 million euros (42.4 million dollars) from a Rome businessman who falsely claimed residence in Dubai to dodge taxes.

UN, HRW workers in crosshairs as Israel cites bias, Hamas membership

The United Nations on Friday rejected Israeli claims that one of its aid workers in the Palestinian Territories is a "terrorist" who belongs to the radical Islamist Hamas movement.

Consulates deny telling teachers, parents to denounce Erdogan critics

Turkish consulates in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia on Friday dismissed allegations that they instructed teachers and parents to denounce critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Source: Le Pen defied police summons in assistants' pay enquiry

Marine Le Pen failed to appear for a summons for police questioning on Wednesday, a source close to the investigations has told dpa.

Iraqi forces claim key Mosul base, enter first western district

Iraqi forces seized a major military base from Islamic State on Friday and stormed the first district in the western section of Mosul, part of their campaign to dislodge the radical group from its last key Iraqi stronghold, a senior commander said.

BASF sales down 18 per cent due to Gazprom asset swap

German chemicals giant BASF said Friday that its revenues decreased by 18 per cent, to 57.6 billion euros (60.9 billion dollars), in 2016, due mainly to a multibillion-euro asset swap with Gazprom, Russia's state-backed gas group.

New Delhi shocked at reports of Indian national dead in US shooting

India was in shock and dismay Friday at the news of the death of an Indian engineer in an alleged racially motivated killing in the United States earlier this week.

42 killed in car bombing in Syria's al-Bab, monitor says

At least 42 people are dead after a car bombing in Syria's northern city of al-Bab on Friday, a day after Turkish-backed rebels seized control of the city from the Islamic State extremist militia, a monitoring group reported.

Car bombing kills at least eight soldiers in Yemen

At least eight government soldiers died in a Friday car bombing in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan, a local security official said.