Serbia vows to deepen telecommunication cooperation with China despite agreement signed in Washington


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Serbia vows to deepen telecommunication cooperation with China despite agreement signed in Washington


Source: Global Times       Published: 2020-09-18

Serbia has expressed its views openly and pledged to deepen cooperation with China after a Washington meeting in early September, which Chinese analysts believe shows US' wishful thinking of wooing and pressuring Serbia to join its alliance to counter China in fields like 5G is doomed to fail.

The iron-clad friendship between China and Serbia has become even stronger since the COVID-19 pandemic this year, and Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo has frequently met with Serbian leaders to exchange views on bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

In a recent move, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic have openly pledged to deepen cooperation with Chinese tech giant Huawei multiple times, despite Serbia signing an agreement with Kosovo at the White House in early September in the presence of US President Donald Trump, committing not to use equipment supplied by "untrusted vendors" in their telecommunications networks.

During a meeting with Chen on September 11, Vucic explained the agreement and stressed that China is a reliable cooperative partner of Serbia and Serbia will conduct cooperation with China in various fields including telecommunications.

Three days later, Huawei opened an innovation and development center in Belgrade in the presence of Ana Brnabic, who said Serbia was cooperating with Huawei on artificial intelligence, education and smart city and the center will significantly help further digitalization in Serbia.

As a world-class enterprise, Huawei is not only an equipment supplier, but also a provider of knowledge and technology, making it one of Serbia's largest, best and most important partners, Brnabic said, according to the Chinese embassy in Serbia.

These loud and clear voices from Serbian leaders were made just one week after the Washington agreement, with Chinese experts saying that the agreement was only a halfhearted response to the US, as it was fully aware of US' attempt to sabotage the friendly relations between China and other countries and the security concern raised by the US was only an excuse.

Wang Yiwei, a professor at the School of International Relations at Renmin University of China, senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China(RDCY), told the Global Times on Friday that Serbia clearly knew that only Huawei can offer it cost-effective 5G services, and the European Union (EU) will not offer it a replacement given that its accession to EU has not been decided and the US has no better replacement.

The US has been stirring up trouble in central and eastern Europe since the COVID-19 pandemic, aiming to incite them to counter China, and Serbia is its target in the Balkan Peninsula, Wang said.

Not just China, the US was also trying to undermine the relations between Serbia and Russia. Considering the structure of Serbian energy imports and the fact that Serbia and Russia are very closely linked by cooperation in the field of natural gas, the Washington agreement advised Serbia and Kosovo to diversify their energy sources.

Serbia has deep cooperation and firm relations with China and Russia, and the solid foundation will not be shaken by the US, Wang said.

Some Western media have claimed Serbia has walked toward the West after the spat with Russia over a senior Russian official's Facebook post.

However, after Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an apology to Vucic, Vucic said the two countries have good relations and for him the incident was a "passing, unimportant incident," according to BBC.

Wang Yiwei is a senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China(RDCY).

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