Li's visit to strengthen China-Serbia strategic ties, practical co-op
BELGRADE - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's upcoming visit to Serbia is expected to boost bilateral strategic ties and map out a plan for future practical cooperation.
Li is scheduled to arrive in Belgrade Monday for an official visit, his first trip to the Central and Eastern European (CEE) nation, after wrapping up a visit to Kazakhstan. This is also the first visit to Serbia by a Chinese premier in 28 years.
During his stay in Serbia, Li will meet with the Serbian president and prime minister, and attend the completion ceremony of a bridge across the River Danube in Belgrade.
Built by a Chinese company, the 1.5-km bridge is open for traffic in December as expected, and in October 2015 the whole project including 21-km access roads will be completed.
Meanwhile, a series of agreements ranging from finance, investment and aviation to cultural and information industries are expected to be inked during the trip.
Li will also attend the third leaders' meeting of China and CEE countries in Belgrade, where participants will discuss issues including regional connectivity.
"The premier's visit is of great importance for China and Serbia to consolidating the traditional friendship, enhancing mutual political trust, planing the future practical cooperation, and deepening bilateral strategic partnership in a comprehensive manner," Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said.
Wang also said that Li's upcoming visit will promote substantial progress of the Belgrade-Budapest railway that China is constructing with Serbia and Hungary. The railway is the first cross-border connectivity infrastructure project in the CEE region.
"The cooperation between China and Serbia is deepening in areas including traffic, infrastructure and energy," Wang said, adding that the two sides will put forward new ideas and new measures on developing model cooperation projects and new growth engines, optimizing trade structure and further strengthening people-to-people exchanges.
According to statistics, trade between the two countries reached $612 million in 2013, a 19.6 percent surge year on year.
China and Serbia agreed to continue to support each other on issues of core interests when Chinese President Xi Jinping met with his Serbian counterpart, Tomislav Nikolic, in Beijing last year.
They also agreed to expand the scale of bilateral trade and investment as well as to push forward the establishment of cultural centers in each other's cities.