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China's help "of essential importance" in Serbia's fight against pandemic: president

BELGRADE, May 1 (Xinhua)  China's help was "of essential importance "in Serbia's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Friday.

He made the remarks at a press conference after meeting Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo, China's medical expert team, and the representatives of Chinese biotech company BGI at the Palace of Serbia.

"Without China's help, it would be hard for us to preserve our healthcare system, which was of essential importance," Vucic said.

His thanks came on the heels of a ceremony held here on Thursday, during which Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin awarded military memorial medals to the six-member Chinese expert team for their contribution to Serbia's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vucic said the expert team, having spent six weeks so far in Serbia and visited all the major cities, had shown their hard-working nature and dedication.

Chinese medical experts had helped Serbia preserve its healthcare system and increase testing capacity, he said, adding that Chinese companies had played a major role in the functioning of the Serbian economy despite the crisis.

The Serbian president also thanked the experts of BGI who came to Serbia three weeks ago to set up two "Fire Eye" COVID-19 testing facilities, as well as Mammoth Foundation, Zijin Copper and other companies that made donations for the labs.

"If we would be able to protect our country from the additional waves of the epidemics, and if we behave seriously and responsibly in the future," Vucic said, "we are sure that we will not see negative economic growth this year, which is a guarantee that we will be the most successful on the entire European continent."

Ambassador Chen said that Chinese companies have been participating actively in the cooperation between the two countries, and the joint "construction of the Fire Eye lab serves as a great example."

"I am sure that China and Serbia are partners not only in the fight against the virus, but will also be partners on the road to economic recovery," she said.