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Spotlight: Xi's article raises expectation for further China-Serbia cooperation

A signed article by Chinese President Xi Jinping elaborating on prospects for future relations between China and Serbia has aroused expectation for a new stage in cooperation between the two countries.

Xi published a signed article on leading Serbian newspaper Politika under the title of "Enduring Friendship and True Partnership" on Thursday, ahead of his state visit to the Balkan country.

The article, also carried by the Tanjug news agency, retrospected on the traditional friendship of more than six decades between China and Serbia and their ties marked by long-term mutual trust, support and win-win cooperation.

Commenting on Xi's article, Dusan Janjic, a Serbian political expert with the Forum for Ethnic Relations, said China has been consistent in its policy on Serbia.

"It is especially important when great ones respect small ones. This is also true for Serbia," he said.

The reforms taking place in China in the past few decades show that China has always given priorities to economic development, he said, adding that this is quite enlightening for Serbia.

"It is a great opportunity to cooperate with China," said the expert.

Serbia is "located on a strategically important traffic junction," said Ivona Ladjevic, a researcher with the Institute for International Policy and Economy in Serbia.

Ladjevic said investment from China is important for Serbia, adding she hopes that in the future more companies from China will invest in the Serbian industry.

China and Serbia share a time-honored traditional friendship. In 2009, Serbia became the first CEE country to establish a strategic partnership with China.

Two-way trade grew by 2.3 percent year on year to 550 million U.S. dollars in 2015, according to Chinese customs.

Last year, Serbia signed a memorandum of understanding with China to jointly promote the connectivity-based Belt and Road Initiative during the fourth leaders' meeting of China and 16 CEE countries, which was held in Suzhou, China.

The initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.

Upon his arrival in Belgrade on Friday, the Chinese president, in a written speech, hailed the mutual political trust and the fruitful cooperation in such fields as energy, transportation infrastructure construction and agriculture over recent years.

Ladjevic appreciated that Xi comes with a big delegation that gathers a significant number of businessmen from both private and state owned companies.

"I expect that we will discuss the issue of investment in agriculture, because Serbia is significant and is very interested in this area," she said.

Ladjevic pointed out that Serbia provides China with an important connection with Europe. "Having in mind the connection that Serbia can offer in the capacity of a country that wishes to join EU -- China, through Serbia, can connect itself with the EU in another way," she said.

Xi arrived in Belgrade Friday for a state visit to Serbia. He will also visit Poland and Uzbekistan, where he is expected to attend the 16th meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State.

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