Serbia: A Central Piece of China's Presence in the Balkans

Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent 6-day state visit to Europe has highlighted China's increasing presence in the Balkans, particularly in Serbia. During his visit to Serbia on May 8, 2024, President Xi Jinping and EU-candidate Serbia signed a significant agreement, marking Serbia as the first European country in years to enter into a free trade agreement with China. Set to come into effect on July 1, 2024, this agreement signifies China's growing economic and political outreach to the region. China's support for Serbia aims to strengthen economic ties, promote its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and exploit divisions within the European Union. With strained relations between China and the EU, as well as Russia's conflict with Ukraine, Serbia has become a crucial focal point for China's expanding presence in the region. This strategic interest highlights China's growing focus on Serbia and the broader Balkans.