Xinhua Headlines: Iron-clad China-Serbia friendship stronger in COVID-19 fight

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-02 21:18:55|Editor: huaxia

While China and Serbia are all-weather friends and important cooperation partners, this friendship is now at the highest possible level as the two friends are joining hands to stifle the COVID-19 outbreak.

by Xinhua writers Shi Zhongyu, Nemanja Cabric

BELGRADE, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Thanks to their mutual support amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the iron-clad friendship between China and Serbia becomes even stronger.

Encouraging signs of control over the COVID-19 outbreak in Serbia have left people here with gratitude for the advice of the Chinese medical experts and the medical supplies from China.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (L) greets members of the Chinese medical team via elbow contact in Belgrade, Serbia, March 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Shi Zhongyu)


On March 21, a team of Chinese medical staff with rich experience in fighting COVID-19 arrived in the Serbian capital to help with the Balkan state's battle against the coronavirus.

The Chinese medical team came over with ventilators, medical masks, test kits, and other medical supplies among the first batch of 16 tons of donations.

In response, Serbian capital shined out of gratitude in the color of the Chinese flag, while Serbian netizens recalled the widespread Serbian proverb: "Troubles unveil the real heroes."

"Everything inside these two airplanes is a donation. We offer them our immense gratitude, especially for sending their experts. They have proven as friends in the most difficult times when we fight for the lives of Serbian people," Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said then.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (front) speaks at the ceremony welcoming the Chinese medical team in Belgrade, Serbia, March 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Shi Zhongyu)

In the battle against the outbreak, China, still fighting at home, has made its utmost efforts to help others in the international community, and each of those ventilators means a saved human life in Serbia, said the Serbian president.

"Serbia mustn't forget this: China will be our friends for many centuries and millennia to come," Vucic said.

Serbia's world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic has recently announced that he, along with his wife, will donate 1 million euros (about 1.1 million U.S. dollars) to buy respiratory ventilators and other medical supplies for his home country.

Speaking in a video statement, Djokovic, a household name in Serbia, said he was touched by how the Chinese people stepped in to help. "China's help means a lot to us not only in supplies and equipment, but most of all their expertise," said the Serb.

"Not just in this COVID-19 outbreak, but throughout history they proved as great friends, always with us when the times were difficult," he added.

An airplane carrying a Chinese medical team arrives in Belgrade, Serbia, March 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Shi Zhongyu)


When China was first hit by the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, Serbia was among the first countries to offer sympathies and help.

As Serbia is now launching its own battle against the coronavirus, China has demonstrated that it equally cares about and is more than ready to protect its friend in the Balkans.

Serbian soldiers and staff members prepare beds for possible COVID-19 patients in the hall of the Belgrade Fair, in Belgrade, Serbia, March 24, 2020. (Serbian Defense Ministry/Handout via Xinhua)

"Though it is not a wealthy country, especially with its own problems in the healthcare sector, Serbia came to China's assistance when China was in trouble," said Guo Yubiao, a member of the Chinese medical team to Serbia.

"So when they meet the difficulties in fighting the epidemic, our country also supports them," Guo said, quoting a Chinese proverb which reads that the grace of dripping water should be reciprocated by a gushing spring.

Since their arrival in Serbia, the Chinese medical experts had exchanged experience with their Serbian counterpart by offering information and holding lectures about COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment measures.

Noting that the Chinese experience has so far achieved very good results in China's Hubei and other provinces, Peng Zhiqiang, chief of the Chinese medical team, expressed belief that the success can be repeated here in Serbia.

"I am confident that with the help of Chinese experts and effective measures, Serbia will certainly be able to fight the coronavirus epidemic and win the final victory," Peng told Xinhua.

Peng Zhiqiang, chief of the Chinese medical team in Serbia, also deputy director of the Institute of Infectious Disease Prevention and Control of Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks in an interview with Xinhua in Belgrade, Serbia, March 24, 2020. (Photo by Nemanja Cabric/Xinhua)

In one recent video conference with medical staff and health officials from Central and Eastern European countries on the COVID-19 fight, the Chinese side has also expounded community prevention and control measures taken in Beijing.

"Our community has carried out strict body temperature checks and situation checks on all people entering our community since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic," said one Chinese participant at the video conference in Beijing.

Serbian heads of medical institutes, hospitals and representatives of government attend a video conference with Chinese health officials, experts and their counterparts from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in Belgrade, Serbia, March 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Shi Zhongyu)


Serbian scholars studying China-Serbia ties agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth a higher level of solidarity between the two countries.

Ivona Ladjevac, head of the center for the Belt and Road Initiative at the Institute of International Politics and Economics in Serbia, said that the mutual support between China and Serbia has appeared to prove wrong the conventional wisdom that "in politics, everything is about interests."

A building is illuminated in red in downtown Belgrade, Serbia, March 22, 2020. (Photo by Nemanja Cabric/Xinhua)

"As many times before, the Chinese saying of 'a friend in need is a friend indeed' has turned out to be true," said Ladjevac.

"China reacted promptly. Doctors that were saving the lives of Chinese citizens, came to save ours. Their experience will be crucial in a battle that we just have started," said the scholar.

Zivadin Jovanovic, former foreign minister of Yugoslavia, recalled how a long tradition of friendship, mutual respect and solidarity has created the basis for a strong relationship between China and Serbia.

"Both Serbia and China adhere to the United Nations Charter principles, to the international law and to the World order based on respect of sovereign equality, territorial integrity and non-interference," he said.

Serbia and China, as comprehensive strategic partners, are connected by a wide range of cooperation in trade, infrastructure, investments, green energy and industry, transfer of technology, innovation, tourism, science, culture, education and people to people connectivity, he added.

Indeed, when people in Serbia praise the mutual support of China in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, they often underscore the importance of cooperation with China for Serbia's own economic development.

The top of Serbian parliament building is illuminated in red in Belgrade, Serbia, March 22, 2020. (Photo by Nemanja Cabric/Xinhua)

As the China-Serbia bilateral trade continues to rise, large infrastructural projects conducted by Chinese companies have also benefited not just the Serbian public but also local construction companies.

Across Serbia, Chinese investments have poured into such sectors as automobile parts, mining, steel and furniture, creating thousands of jobs locally, according to the Development Agency of Serbia, a government organization on investment promotion.

While China and Serbia are all-weather friends and important cooperation partners, this friendship is now at the highest possible level as the two friends are joining hands to stifle the COVID-19 outbreak.

(Xinhua reporters Luo Xin, Ma Yan from Beijing contributed to the report.)

(Video reporters Shi Zhongyu, Nemanja Cabric and Zhao Yuchao; Video editor Jia Xiaotong.)