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Xi Jinping’s Critique of NATO’s Bombing Sparks Diplomatic Ripples

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Image Credit: Foreign Policy

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed solemn remembrance of NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade 25 years ago, pledging to never forget the tragic incident. His statement, published in Serbia’s Politika newspaper ahead of his visit to the country, underscored China’s enduring grievance over the loss of three Chinese journalists during the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia in 1999.

Xi’s remarks come amid his tour of Europe, which includes stops in Serbia, France, and Hungary. The timing of his visit, coinciding with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fifth term, hints at China’s strategic maneuvers to strengthen ties with Europe and align against perceived US-led aggression.

The bombing of the Chinese embassy remains a sensitive issue for China, symbolizing its deep-seated mistrust of Western powers, particularly the United States. The incident sparked widespread anti-US protests in China then and has since been invoked by Chinese officials to rally support for their stance against Western military interventions.

Xi’s condemnation of NATO’s actions serves as a backdrop to China’s efforts to bolster economic and political ties with Europe. As the European Union pursues trade probes and aligns with the US on issues related to China’s economic practices and national security concerns, Xi aims to persuade European nations of the mutual benefits of closer cooperation with China.

Furthermore, Xi’s criticism of NATO’s bombing aligns with China’s support for Russia amidst the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. By referencing the Belgrade bombing, Chinese officials seek to underscore their solidarity with Russia’s position that NATO’s actions in Eastern Europe have precipitated the crisis in Ukraine.

European leaders, however, have urged Xi to leverage his influence with Putin to help resolve the conflict in Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, during his recent visit to Beijing, emphasized the urgency of ending the war, labeling it as “insane.”

During his visit to France, Xi reiterated his opposition to the war in Ukraine and cautioned against scapegoating a third country for the crisis. President Emmanuel Macron echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the interconnectedness of security in Europe and Ukraine.

Despite tensions between China and the EU over human rights and trade issues, Xi emphasized the enduring friendship between China and Serbia. He highlighted the sacrifices made by Chinese and Serbian citizens and expressed confidence in the resilience of their relationship.

In conclusion, Xi Jinping’s condemnation of NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade serves as a poignant reminder of historical grievances and underscores China’s strategic engagement with Europe amidst geopolitical tensions. As China seeks to expand its influence on the global stage, its efforts to cultivate partnerships with European nations will continue to shape the dynamics of international relations.

This story was originally featured on Bloomberg

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