Chinese leader Xi remembers bomb victims on visit to Belgrade, Serbia

This article by Jörg Kronauer was published in the German daily newspaper, junge Welt, on May 8 (jungewelt.de). Workers World brings it to the attention of our readers as it is a succinct summary of the Chinese leader’s European trip and underlines the consequences of aggression against diplomatic buildings, such as the recent Israeli bombing of Iran’s Consulate in Damascus, Syria. Translation: John Catalinotto.

Chinese Embassy after U.S. bombed it in 1999. Belgrade, Serbia (then Yugoslavia).

China’s President Xi Jinping was expected in the Serbian capital on Tuesday evening [May 7] to mark the 25th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Beijing’s embassy in Belgrade. “We must not forget that NATO brazenly bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia 25 years ago,” said Xi in a statement published in his name by the Serbian daily Politika on Tuesday. 

Washington had officially called the attack, in which three Chinese died and 20 others were injured, an “accident.” Xi reiterated that the Chinese people would “never allow historical tragedies to happen again.” According to reports, he wanted to commemorate the victims on the former embassy grounds on Tuesday evening.

While Xi particularly wants to promote economic relations in Serbia — and then on the third and final stop of his current European tour, in Hungary — he had previously advocated an international peace conference to end the war in Ukraine in his talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Paris. This conference must, however, be recognized equally by Kiev and Moscow, Xi emphasized, distancing himself from the planned meeting in Switzerland in June [that excludes Russia]. 

Macron and von der Leyen once again tried to get Xi to publicly distance himself from Vladimir Putin and thus drive a wedge between Beijing and Moscow, but were unsuccessful.

As expected, there was a dispute over the booming Chinese exports of electric cars, solar panels and other climate change products, which the EU accuses China of deliberately overproducing. Von der Leyen threatened that the EU would “defend our economy” in the fight against Chinese competition and, if necessary, take “tough decisions,” such as imposing punitive tariffs. 

Macron put it in a more conciliatory tone, saying that the aim was to “develop balanced relations with China.” After the meeting in Paris on Tuesday, he invited Xi on a short trip to the Col du Tourmalet mountain pass in the Pyrenees — a gesture intended to reaffirm the desire for cooperation.

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