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Enduring Friendship and True Partnership
 

By H. E. Xi Jinping

President of the People's Republic of China

Published on Serbian newspaper Politika  

June 16, 2016

I will be paying a state visit to the Republic of Serbia at the invitation of President Tomislav Nikolic. I am delighted to visit this friendly, beautiful and legendary country in the season of blooming flowers. I look forward to renewing friendship and exploring future cooperation with President Nikolic and other Serbian leaders with a view to taking the strategic partnership between our two countries to a new high.

With a long history and a splendid culture, Serbia is an important country in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in general and the Balkans in particular. For centuries, Serbia has been a place where civilizations of the East and West meet, interact and together bring about major progress in human civilization. It is also on this land that the hard-working and brave Serbian people have left a heroic epic in their fight for national independence and freedom and written an inspiring chapter in pursuit of a happier life.

In the 1940s, the Chinese and the Yugoslavians fought gallantly against Fascist aggression on the Eastern and Western fronts and went on to achieve national liberation and freedom. In the early 1950s, China and the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia established diplomatic relations, opening a new chapter of friendship and cooperation between the Chinese people and the Serbian people. The ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius said, one should befriend those with virtues. Over the past six decades and more, the profound friendship and special bond between our peoples have defied the passage of time and the long distance between us to become even stronger.

A Serbian proverb goes, "Prijatelj je plod vremena" (friends are the fruits of time). We will never forget this: Famous movies like Walter Defends Sarajevo and Bridge once inspired the patriotic ardor of many Chinese, and to this day, "Bella ciao" is still widely heard in China; and in the 1980s, when China was in a crucial period of reform and opening-up, the successful experience of the Serbian people served as valuable reference for China.

Neither will we forget this: When the Chinese county of Wenchuan was hit by a massive earthquake in 2008, Serbia offered speedy assistance to China and provided a large amount of relief supplies to the people in the affected areas; and in September 2015, President Nikolic went to Beijing for the commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, sending a strong message of our two countries' commitment to upholding the post-war international order, safeguarding world peace and building a better future for mankind.

We will never forget that China-Serbia relations have been defined by mutual respect, mutual trust, mutual support and win-win cooperation. No matter how the international situation changes and how our countries develop and transform, we have always shown full understanding and respect for each other's choices of development path, given each other firm support on issues concerning core interests and major concerns, and remained committed to deepening our political trust and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Today, our traditional friendship has gained fresh vitality, and the bilateral ties have grown in breadth and depth. In recent years, President Nikolic and I had a number of meetings and reached important agreement on consolidating traditional friendship, deepening political trust and advancing mutually beneficial cooperation. In 2009, our two countries established a strategic partnership, the first of its kind between a CEE country and China. In 2013, President Nikolic and I signed a joint statement on deepening China-Serbia strategic partnership, further enhancing the strategic significance of our relations.

Both bilaterally and within the frameworks of the Belt and Road Initiative (the Initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road) and China-CEEC cooperation, practical cooperation between our two countries is making breakthroughs and yielding more results than in other parts of Central and Eastern Europe. We have signed an MOU on jointly developing the Belt and Road. With the implementation of such major projects as the Belgrade-Budapest Railway, the Mihajlo Pupin Bridge, the E763 Motorway, the expansion and upgrading of Kostolac Power Plant, and the acquisition of the Smederevo steel mill by Hebei Iron and Steel Group, our cooperation on major projects is making heartening and sweeping progress, delivering economic and social benefits and a positive impact on the entire Central and Eastern European region.

There are closer exchanges between our peoples, sound cooperation in culture, education and science and technology, and regular inter-party and sub-national interactions. We have signed an agreement on setting up culture centers in each other's countries; the University of Belgrade and the University of Novi Sad have opened Confucius Institutes; the Chinese language is now taught on a pilot basis in more than 100 middle and primary schools in Serbia; and construction will soon start for the China Culture Center in Belgrade. All these represent new avenues of communication between our peoples.

The Serbian people believe that "prvo skoci, pa reci hop" (walk the walk, then talk the talk) while the Chinese people believe that actions speak louder than words. China attaches great importance to its relations with Serbia and values the profound tradition of China-Serbia friendship. China is ready to tap the potential of win-win cooperation by utilizing our complementarity so as to achieve steady and sustained growth of our relations. The purpose of my upcoming visit to Serbia is to engage deeply and extensively with our Serbian friends to explore concrete actions that can bring our countries and peoples closer together and ensure a lasting friendship and true partnership.

-- We need to focus on the long term and always respect, trust and understand each other. We should firmly support each other on issues concerning our core interests and major concerns and work for a more strategic and comprehensive relationship. China respects the Serbian people's independent choice of development path as well as Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and understands Serbia's efforts toward EU membership.

-- We need to stay committed to pursuing win-win results and common development. China will share its development fruits and opportunities with Serbia, and work with Serbia to explore and strengthen alignment of our respective development strategies in a bid to expand converging interests, scale up trade and investment, especially in context of the Belt and Road Initiative and China-CEEC cooperation, further tap cooperation potential and facilitate greater cooperation on major projects in order to make China-Serbia cooperation a shining example for China-CEEC cooperation and bring real benefits to our two peoples.

-- We need to further cement popular support for the bilateral relations. It is important for us to make the most of the reservoir of traditional friendship and find new ways and means to increase exchanges and cooperation in education, culture and tourism so that this friendship will be passed on from generation to generation.

-- We need to maintain close communication and coordination in international affairs. Our two sides should work in concert at the UN and other international organizations and institutions and take care of each other's concerns on major international and regional issues. China looks forward to working with Serbia to make due contribution to regional stability, world peace and the common development and prosperity of mankind.

I am fully convinced that with our joint efforts, the strategic partnership between China and Serbia will grow from strength to strength.

(Xinhua News Agency June 16, 2016)

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