En­dur­ing friend­ship and true part­ner­ship

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL - OUR COR­RE­SPON­DENT

BEI­JING Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pub­lished a signed ar­ti­cle on lead­ing Ser­bian news­pa­per Poli­tika un­der the ti­tle of “En­dur­ing Friend­ship and True Part­ner­ship” ahead of his state visit to the Balkan coun­try.

Full text: 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 Yugo- sla­vians 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 Chi­naCEEC co­op­er­a­tion, fur­ther tap co­op­er­a­tion po­ten­tial and fa­cil­i­tate greater co­op­er­a­tion on ma­jor projects in or­der to make China-Ser­bia co­op­er­a­tion a shin­ing ex­am­ple for Chi­naCEEC 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.

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