Serbia offers support to China in ‘battle’ with new virus

BELGRADE, SERBIA (AP) — Waving Chinese flags, several dozen people gathered on Saturday in Serbia’s capital to show support for China as it struggles to contain a new virus that started in the Asian country but has spread globally.

Serbian officials and China’s ambassador attended a concert and gave speeches at the event held among light installations that were set up for Chinese New Year last month in a park in central Belgrade.

Globally, nearly 78,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in 29 countries, and more than 2,300 have died. This has fuelled some anti-Chinese sentiments around the globe amid fears of further spread of the disease.

“Belgrade is thinking about China,” Deputy Mayor Goran Vesic said. “We will be by your side so you can overcome these difficulties. When China is well, Serbia will be well also.”

Chinese Ambassador Chen Bo thanked the Balkan country for the support. “Chinese people will not be defeated,” she said. “China will be stronger after it overcomes the epidemic.”

No Serbian citizens so far have been confirmed infected with the virus, which has led to an effective lockdown of about a dozen towns in northern Italy.