Friday, March 02, 2018

Projects Within B&R Initiative Creates Momentum to Further Deepen China-Serbia Ties: Forum
Published: 2018/3/2 7:15:59

Participants of a forum focusing on China-Serbia cooperation on Thursday agreed that the Sino-Serbian ties will be further deepened thanks to the momentum created by the joint projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The forum "Future of Cooperation Between China and Serbia" was held at the Institute for International Politics and Economics with the presence of representatives of Chinese-Serbian Commerce Association, Chinese Ambassador Li Manchang as well as experts, academics and state officials.

According to the Chinese ambassador, Serbia's active involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative has resulted in numerous projects.


It's a consensus at Thursday's forum that the increase of the number of joint projects between China and Serbia will bring many positive changes, including more job creations, economic growth and enhanced academic and people exchanges.

Zou Ze Xi, deputy general manager of the branch office of the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), gave the Zemun-Borca bridge, the first completed project of the CRBC in Serbia, as an example, saying the bridge has improved transport across the Danube in the Serbian capital.

"With the support of both countries we are now working on the Surcin-Obrenovac section of the highway E763, helping Serbia to improve the transportation network in order to promote the economic development," he said, adding that the soon-to-be-constructed China-Serbia industrial park in Borca will help create local jobs, improve the technical level of labor and bring significant benefits to industry and development.

"It is predicted that around 1,800 enterprises will be located in the park," he announced, estimated that the production by these enterprises will create 7,500 direct and 15,000 indirect jobs for Serbia.

"This will contribute to Serbian gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.3 billion US dollars," said the manager.


With the increase of the big projects, links between the two countries are being cemented in multiple dimensions.

Xu Li, President of the Chinese-Serbian Commerce Association, said that the body was established this February by leading Chinese companies in Serbia in order to bring experts and businessmen of China and Serbia together.

"The goal is to support and promote activities between Chinese and Serbian companies, institutions and associations in order to advance of the joint cooperation, understanding and friendship," he said, stressing that the priority is to promote the favorable business environment and advantages of investing into Serbia, and providing Chinese investors with necessary support.

PhD Zarko Obradovic, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of National Assembly of Serbia, said that Serbia has the best relations with China in this part of Europe and that the country has signed biggest number of projects within the Belt and Road initiative.

"Establishment of the Chinese-Serbian Commerce Association opens numerous opportunities for the export from Serbia to China and we need to support them in this goal," Obradovic said.

Chen Hui, Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Novi Sad reminded that the institute in Serbia offers language programs to Serbian students, high school and elementary school children in 16 teaching centres in cities of Belgrade, Novi Sad and Sabac, where participants also learn about Chinese culture and tradition.

"In last three years more than 2,000 local students have enrolled at the Confucius institute at the University of Novi Sad for learning Chinese language, among which 60 participated in Chinese summer camp, 600 took official tests and achieved good grades while 10 students successfully applied for scholarships to study in China's universities," Chen said.

He invited both countries to invest joint efforts to deepen their fraternal friendship and to promote academic exchanges between China and Serbia.

And the more frequent exchanges between peoples are even materializing.

"I would like to use this opportunity to reveal one secret to you -- we are talking about a second airline that will connect Belgrade with another Chinese city (after Belgrade-Beijing was established last year)," said the Chinese ambassador.


Brisk business environment and close people links are pushing the bilateral ties to a further level.

"Along with the membership in the European Union, the cooperation with China is a high priority for Serbia," said Branislav Djordjevic, Director of the Institute for International Politics and Economy, which is the regional centre for projects management within the 16+1 mechanism of China and Central and East Europe.

Xu Li is optimistic about the business opportunities brought by Serbia's active involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative.

He said the involvement opens possibilities to enhance cooperation in areas of investments, agriculture, transport and infrastructure, logistics, information technologies, communications, trade, energy and mining, financial sector and banking and other areas.

Ambassador Li also mentioned the "friendship strong as steel," words used by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to describe Sino-Serbian ties before going to Bejing to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation last May, saying the friendship is on its historically highest level marked by numerous mutual high level visits, economic projects and international cooperation.

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