US warns Serbia over China AA missile systems deal

AP Photo/Kin Cheung

The recent semi-secret delivery of Chinese weapons systems to Serbia drew criticism from Washington where an unnamed spokesman said that Belgrade should be aware of the possible cost and risks of doing business with Beijing.

“Doing business with companies based in the People’s Republic of China is a sovereign decision but governments need to be aware of the short- and long-term risks and costs,” the Voice of America’s Serbian language portal quoted the unnamed State Department spokesman as saying.

The arrival of several Chinese military transport aircraft was reported on social networks and Serbian independent media last weekend. Several photographs showed Chinese Xi’an Y-20 transport aircraft flying over and landing at Belgrade airport.

Balkan Security Network editor Danijel Sunter told N1 that the Chinese aircraft were most probably delivering FK-3 AA surface to air missile systems, adding that the the purchase of those missile systems was contracted in 2019 with advance payments. The Balkans Security Network reported earlier that the Serbian military was organizing a new AA defense unit which will be armed with the FK-3.

The deliveries were also reported by the South China Morning Post which said that 12 covert flights brought the anti-aircraft missile systems to Belgrade.

The FK-3 is a downgraded export version of the HG-22 which was developed by the Jiangnan Space Industry which is part of the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation Limited (CASIC).

The Serbian Defense Ministry has made no comment on the reports of the deliveries.