Serbia Embassy signs up for Weibo upon Chinese netizens’ call
Published: Mar 18, 2020 01:08 AM

Photo: People's daily

The Serbian Embassy in China opened its official Sina Weibo account on March 18, upon requests of many Chinese netizens who were desperately looking for ways to donate for Serbia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Serbian Embassy in China appreciates the concerns of Chinese netizens regarding COVID-19 in Serbia. We are deeply impressed and moved by your support," said the embassy in its debut post. 

Its official Weibo introduction writes "65 years old, Capricornus." Sino-Serbian friendship has gone through 65 years since China and the former Yugoslavia formally established diplomatic ties on January 2, 1955.

Chinese netizens have called on the Serbian Embassy in China to set up a fundraising channel, as many expressed their desire on social media to donate medical aid to Serbia to help fight against COVID-19.

Serbia is China's close friend and we will firmly stand with them in the battle against the novel coronavirus and provide them with masks, protective outfits, ventilators and other medical supplies, as well as assigning expert groups, said the Chinese Foreign Minister on Tuesday.

The first batch of medical aid from China arrived in Belgrade at the weekend, which included 1,000 rapid test kits.

There are 57 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Serbia, and 316 people had been tested as of Tuesday.

Chinese netizens who initiated donations told the Global Times that they had developed deep sympathy when hearing about the suffering of "Serbian friends" after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic appealed for help from China on Sunday while slamming the EU for banning exports of medical aids.

Vucic said that China is the only country in the world that can help Serbia out of its plight as the country announced a state of emergency to curb the outbreak.

His appeal soon became a popular hashtag topic being read by 620 million people on Sina Weibo in the past 72 hours.

Many Chinese netizens, especially a group of young college students, called the Serbian Embassy to ask how they could donate medical aids, and they formed WeChat groups to discuss assistance plans and to raise donations via their social connections.

Previously, the Iranian Embassy in Beijing received 4 million yuan ($570, 841) in donations within 24 hours after announcing a shortage of medical supplies on its official Weibo account.

An official Weibo account for the Serbian Embassy in China had not yet been set up as of Tuesday.

"I am very clear about the historical ties between our two countries and the iron friendship that continues, which makes me more concerned about Serbian people in this outbreak and their shortage of medical supplies," Mai Mai, a 21-year-old college student, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Every year on May 7, Serbs and local Chinese in Belgrade lay a wreath for the Chinese victims of NATO forces' barbaric missile attack in 1999 at the site of the original Chinese embassy in the former Yugoslavia.

First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Ivica Dačić became the first foreign minister to visit China on February 26 since the outbreak of the epidemic in China. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang commented the action of Serbia is testament to the unbreakable iron friendship between China and Serbia, noting China is proud to have a good friend like Serbia.

"I didn't expect there would be so many Weibo users trying to find a way to give a hand to Serbian people. So, we got together online to make our appeal to the embassy," Mai said. She is determined to donate masks and disinfectant to people in Serbia.

This group of volunteer students has collected Chinese netizens' blessings in an inspirational video to be sent to Serbs struggling during the outbreak.

"US sanctions Iran, China sends aid. US bans travel from Europe, China sends aid and doctors to Italy. Serbia has now banned all foreigners except Chinese. Countries will now know who their real friends are. You can't fake this," commented a Twitter user "Lady MJ Santos."

According to Vucic, Serbia has so far purchased 5 million masks from China, and is looking for other medical aid, such as respiratory ventilators, to prepare for the imminent rise in the number of serious cases.