Serbia attracts Chinese online fans as joint fight on virus enhances ties

By Hu Yuwei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/25 0:38:40

Joint fight on virus enhances China-Serbia ties

Members of Chinese anti-epidemic expert team to Serbia pose for a group photo before leaving for Serbia at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, March 21, 2020. A team of 6 anti-epidemic experts, set up by the Health Commission of Guangdong Province, left Guangzhou on Saturday with medical supplies to aid the anti-coronavirus fight in Serbia. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)

 Serbia has attained a large following among Chinese netizens as mutual assistance in the COVID-19 outbreak strengthened ties between the two countries and pushed grass-roots interaction to a higher level. 

News about the outbreak in Serbia has been among the popular hashtags on Chinese Twitter-like Sina Weibo in recent days, reflecting the concern of Chinese netizens for their close friends from afar.

Many Weibo users put "a trip to Serbia" on their "bucket list after the epidemic," with some reposting stories and pictures of their previous trips to Serbia, attaching comments like "Serbia is beautiful and so are the friendly people there."

"We don't require visas for Chinese visitors" Serbian Embassy in China responded in a recent Weibo post.

"Like the bullet rain we went through 21 years ago, us 'brother countries' will succeed in overcoming the virus in holding our hands," a Weibo user said to encourage the fight against the COVID-19.

On May 7, 1999, NATO forces carried out a barbaric missile attack on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, leaving three Chinese journalists dead, more than 20 injured, and shocked the world.

Serbian authorities plan to fight the COVID-19 in cooperation with Chinese experts who arrived on March 21 carrying medical supplies, and have decided to start massive testing among its population, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said at a press conference on Monday.

Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic was the first foreign minister to visit China on February 26 since the COVID-19 outbreak in China. 

A number of landmark buildings in Serbia's capital Belgrade lit up with red lamp posts representing China on Saturday and Sunday night, to thank and pay tribute to the Chinese for providing medical assistance.

Serbia became the first foreign embassy in China to open its Weibo account urged by Chinese netizens who were desperately looking for ways to donate to Serbia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It attracted a million followers in a week, seen as a clear reflection of enhanced grass-roots interactions between the two countries.

New Sunshine Charity Foundation, a Beijing-based NGO, confirmed to the Global Times on Monday that it has requested approval from  the Chinese government to raise funds publicly for the Serbian Embassy after learning of netizens' enthusiasm to donate to Serbia.

Vucic has also gained many Chinese online fans, with some netizens applauding "his sincerity, gratitude, as well as attractive looking and tall figure."

A video of him kissing the Chinese national flag while welcoming a team of Chinese medical workers arriving in Belgrade has attracted 600 million views and 117,000 comments on Weibo.

Netizens also collected Vucic's photos and turned them into an electronic album widely viewed online.

"I felt he was grateful and unassuming when he welcomed Chinese experts and gave elbow bumps to them at the airport," Song Yue, a 26-year-old woman who considers herself a typical fan of Vucic, told the Global Times.

"It is so sweet to hear that he would spend time to personally reply to private messages from Chinese netizens on Instagram. He does not act like a president, but more like a 'big brother' with no air. He broke all stereotypes we have of a president, that's why I love him," Song said.

Newspaper headline: Joint fight on virus enhances China-Serbia ties


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