On Monday, China confirmed that it had given Serbia “regular military supplies” after it was reported that several Chinese jets had delivered missiles to the South East European country on Saturday.
According to a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, the delivery of military supplies to Serbia, which has been economically and politically connected to Russia, “has nothing to do with the current situation.”
The announcement comes after reports that HQ-22 surface-to-air missile systems were dropped off in Belgrade, Serbia, on Saturday by six Chinese Air Force planes.
China’s recent delivery continues to draw the communist nation closer to Serbia and appears to fulfill a 2019 agreement between the countries over military supplies.
“Serbia and China have long shared strong ties, partly out of a common disdain for Washington. Serbians nurture resentment over NATO’s 1999 air campaign during the Kosovo conflict, in which the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was hit,” the Associated Press reported. “NATO called the incident, which sparked violent demonstrations in Beijing, a mistaken bombing, an explanation China and many others have long rejected.”
China’s The Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party-backed news outlet, described the flights to Serbia as possibly being “the largest overseas operation by the Chinese domestically developed large transport plane yet, displaying the country’s strategic transport capabilities.”
Serbia has had close relations with both Russia and China and has been closely connected with Russian energy.
Several analysts found the transfer of military supplies notable, some of whom worry it might lead to greater conflict in the region.
Aleksandar Radic, a military analyst in Serbia, described Saturday’s delivery as a “demonstration of force” being carried out by China. The Warzone magazine also noted that the “Y-20s’ appearance raised eyebrows because they flew en masse as opposed to a series of single-aircraft flights.”
Saturday’s delivery appears to be just one more move as China expands its influence around the globe. Just in the past month, China has been working on a security pact with the Solomon Islands which caused concern after a draft of the proposal leaked.
The draft details that the Solomons can “request China to send police, armed police, military personnel and other law enforcement and armed forces” to the island for the purpose of “maintaining social order, protecting people’s lives and property, providing humanitarian assistance” and other agreed-upon needs.
The talks between the two nations come just months after violent anti-China protests in the Solomons as rioters voiced their opposition to perceived moves by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to politically and economically tie the islands to China.
However, government officials have since clarified that the South Pacific nation will not allow China to construct a military base in the islands.
“Government is conscious of the security ramification of hosting a military base, and it will not be careless to allow such initiative to take place under its watch,” a statement from the government noted.