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Instigating Development, Chinese President Xi’s Next Stop IN Serbia and Hungary

After his May 5-7 visits in France, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Serbia on May 7, for high-level strategic meetings with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and other leaders May 8-9. He will then proceed to Hungary for a visit May 9-10, which will include a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The meetings with the two countries, which has put the West into conniptions, will include a focus on physical economic development, and discussion of the NATO proxy war in Ukraine.

Belgrade, Serbia has festooned its bridges and skyscrapers with gigantic Chinese flags in preparation for Xi’s visit, as China has made enormous Belt and Road Initiative investments there, and also Hungary. In both cases—especially that of Serbia—the BRI investments have rescued these countries from potentially moribund conditions. In 2022, China began what is now above a $3 billion investment to renovate the depressed north-south highway from Belgrade, Serbia, to Budapest, Hungary, with China Railway International Corp leading the construction consortiums in Hungary and Austria. The maximum speed in the Serbian section will be 200 km/hour; in the Hungarian section, 160 km/hour. Nonetheless, the travel time between Belgrade and Budapest will be slashed from roughly 8 to 3 hours for the 350-km trip.

However, this is but the first stage of the Budapest-Belgrade-Skopje-Athens railway connection in Central and Southeast Europe, a central project of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, connecting the China-directed Piraeus port in Greece with the heart of Europe.

In 2018, China’s Zijin Mining bought a majority stake in Serbia’s RTB Bor copper mining company, which was struggling with debt and was unable to repair dilapidated mills. It spent $1.5 billion in modernizing the plant complex, which now employs more than 6,000 workers with an average take home pay of $1,300, more than 50% greater than the national average. Zijin Mining plans to make Serbia Europe’s largest copper producer by 2030. China has, as well, invested a few billion dollars to develop a steel processing plant in Serbia, and has invested $7.8 billion to construct a massive battery factory in Debrecen, Hungary, to supply German carmakers, and other projects.

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