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7 May, 2024 16:23

Xi marks 25th anniversary of NATO atrocity

The US bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on this day in 1999
Xi marks 25th anniversary of NATO atrocity

President Xi Jinping of China arrived in Serbia on Tuesday for a two-day visit, landing on the 25th anniversary of the deadly US airstrike on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.

The strike, which came during the 1999 NATO air war in support of ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, killed three Chinese nationals and injured 20 more. Beijing never fully accepted Washington’s apology that the strike had been a mistake caused by “old maps.”

China “should never forget” the bombs that claimed the lives of Shao Yunhuan, Xu Xinghu, and Zhu Ying, Xi wrote in an opinion piece published on Tuesday by Serbia’s oldest newspaper, Politika.

“The Chinese people cherish peace, but we will never allow such tragic history to repeat itself,” the president added. 

Serbian MiG-29 fighters, purchased from Russia several years ago to replace NATO-inflicted losses, were scheduled to provide an honor guard to Xi’s airplane as it entered Serbian airspace. 


Since Xi’s last visit in 2016, Beijing has emerged as Belgrade’s largest foreign investor and second-largest trading partner after Brussels. China has also backed Serbia’s territorial integrity with regard to Kosovo, whose provisional government declared independence in 2008 with US and NATO backing. The EU has recently named recognition of Kosovo as a condition for Serbia’s prospective membership.

“We support Serbia’s efforts to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and oppose any attempt by any forces to interfere in Serbia’s internal affairs,” Xi wrote in his article for Politika.

China and Serbia “hold similar positions on many major international and regional issues,” Xi noted, adding that the two countries should cooperate in bringing about “an equal and orderly multipolar world and a universally beneficial and inclusive economic globalization.”

Both Beijing and Belgrade have refused to join the US and its allies in imposing an embargo on Russia over the Ukraine conflict, despite repeated demands from the West to do so. Visiting France on Monday, Xi told President Emmanuel Macron that he rejected Western attempts to pressure China over Ukraine and “incite a new Cold War.”

Xi described Serbia as “a land of beauty and legends” and said that its friendship with China, “forged with the blood of our compatriots,” will inspire the two nations “to march forward with big strides.”

The Chinese delegation, consisting of around 400 people, is expected to sign some 30 agreements with its Serbian hosts over the two-day visit. After Belgrade, Xi is scheduled to visit neighboring Hungary, another important Chinese trading partner in Europe although it is an EU member.