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Prof. Dr. Ioanna Batsialou, Director and Owner of Ioanna Regen Polyclinic

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Dr Aleksandar Mitić, Research Fellow of the Centre for “Belt and Road” Studies at the Institute for International Politics and Economy

Cooperation with China Raised to the Highest Level in Europe

Both Germany and France desire close cooperation with China, so any criticism of Serbia’s close relations with China is an example of double standards

I was in Beijing during German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit and I discussed President Xi Jinping’s visit to Paris with numerous experts and journalists who monitored his European tour. The basic impression is that the EU’s leading member states are trying, on the one hand, to observe Chinese investments through the Western visor of “securitisation”, i.e. through the threat of security implications – whether real or constructed. This, in turn, leads to numerous attempts to slow the penetration of Chinese products, primarily in the field of new technologies – such as electric vehicles and solar panels – that should be at the foundation of the European This could perhaps lead to praise from Washington and the protection of certain segments of industry, but it also brings into question the sincerity of the commitment of Brussels, Berlin and Paris to the green transition and globalisation based on free trade. On the other hand, when you visit Beijing’s E-Town quarter, which is home to the world’s first demonstration zone for autonomous vehicles in real traffic, and you are aware that the automobile cluster is led by Benz China, i.e., the Chinese subsidiary of Germany’s Mercedes-Benz, it becomes clear that German corporations have no intention whatsoever of turning their back on extremely profitable and successful cooperation.

We so far haven’t seen the same intensity of threats to Russian cooperation when it comes to Serbia’s cooperation with China, and I hope that we won’t see it in the future

The situation is similar with France. According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, French FDI in the Chinese economy increased 586% in the first two months of 2024. In such a context, the pressure being applied to Serbia and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe to refrain from intensifying cooperation with China seems improper, to say the least. Those who fail to resist the applying of double standards are left as the main losers. Serbia has raised the level of its cooperation with China to the highest in Europe – with the community of China and Serbia for a common future in the new era, founded on four cornerstones: political and economic cooperation; a culture of remembering the NATO aggression of 1999; a common view of the future world order based on international law and multipolarity, as opposed to “Western rules”. It is well known that Serbia isn’t aligned with the EU’s restrictive measures against Russia and China. Cooperation with Russia has come under special pressure from Brussels over the last two years, while we’ve also seen collateral negative effects, such as the inability to import Russian oil by sea (JANAF pipeline) as a result of EU sanctions. This compelled Serbia towards energy diversification with the Hungary-Serbia oil pipeline construction project in order to join the “Fellowship”. We so far haven’t seen such intensity of threats when it comes to Serbia’s cooperation with China, and I hope that we won’t see it in the future. Still, within the scope of the COMPASS project, which is being funded by the Science Fund, researchers from the Institute of International Politics and Economy and the Institute of Social Sciences are currently working to analyse perspectives and threats to cooperation in the triangle of EU-Serbia-China relations.

Comment by Zoran Panović

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