China on Tuesday expressed its support for Serbia in efforts to “safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity”. In the wake of renewed violence between ethnic Serbs and NATO peacekeeping personnel in Kosovo.
China’s governing Communist Party has long been a critic of NATO. In part due to the 1999 bombing of Beijing’s embassy in Belgrade during the air campaign to end Serbia’s brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.
Beijing has long used the bombing, which murdered three Chinese journalists, to incite anti-Western sentiment. The US apologised for the assault and attributed it to faulty intelligence. In the aftermath, its diplomatic missions in Beijing and other Chinese cities were attacked. Precipitating a deterioration in relations that has accelerated in recent years.
Along with Russia and Serbia, China does not recognise Kosovo’s independence in 2008. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning attributed the violence to a failure to respect Serbian political rights on Tuesday.
Mao stated at a daily news briefing: “We oppose unilateral actions by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo,” referring to the Kosovo government in Pristina.
NATO should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the relevant countries: Mao
Despite the fact that Serbs boycotted recent local elections and attempted to prevent the election of ethnic Albanian mayors. Mao stated that Serbs should be granted authority over municipalities where they constitute a majority.
When Serbs attempted to seize control of one of the municipalities in northern Kosovo where Albanian mayors assumed their positions last week, violence erupted. On Monday, at least 30 members of KFOR, the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo, were injured.
Mao stated, “We urge NATO to sincerely respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the relevant countries and to genuinely promote regional peace.”
It was anticipated that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic would meet with the Russian and Chinese ambassadors to demonstrate support for his policies.
The 1999 military intervention by NATO ultimately compelled Serbia to withdraw from the territory. But the dispute continues to be a flashpoint for conflict in Eastern Europe.
Russian ally Serbia took delivery of a sophisticated Chinese anti-aircraft system in a covert operation last year. Despite Western concerns that an arms buildup in the Balkans during the Ukraine conflict could jeopardise the region’s fragile peace.