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China enters arms trade treaty after selling drones to Serbia

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stands near new military drones purchased from China on Saturday. Beijing said Tuesday it has entered an arms trade treaty. Photo by Koca Sulejmanovic/EPA-EFE
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stands near new military drones purchased from China on Saturday. Beijing said Tuesday it has entered an arms trade treaty. Photo by Koca Sulejmanovic/EPA-EFE

July 7 (UPI) -- China is to enter into a treaty on arms trade that regulates the export of weapons, Beijing said Tuesday following reports China sold military drones to Serbia for the first time.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a regular press briefing China's top envoy to the United Nations had deposited China's Instrument of Access to the Arms Trade Treaty, or ATT, to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

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The treaty, which goes into effect for China in 90 days, shows China's commitment to a regulated "international arms control regime," Zhao said.

"This fully demonstrates our high sense of responsibility," the Chinese spokesman said.

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Zhao also said the Chinese government "calls on all parties to strictly regulate exports of military items, disallow export to non-state actors, stop interfering in sovereign nations' internal affairs through arms export, and earnestly uphold the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter."

The statement from Beijing comes at a time when China could be expanding weapons sales in Europe.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Balkan service reported Saturday Serbia made a public display of new drones from China.

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The drones were displayed before journalists over the weekend at a military airport near Belgrade, with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in attendance, according to the report.

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"They have a long range, they can shoot at targets from a distance of [6 miles] and record the terrain, objects of interest to Serbia deep within enemy territory," Vucic said, according to a local television network.

The Serbian leader also said Belgrade is working on the "joint development" of technology with Chinese experts. Serbia would eventually be able to develop its own unmanned aerial vehicles, the president said.

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Serbia's purchase of six CH91-A drones and 18 missiles for the aircraft comes after the country also procured arms from Russia.

Vucic has previously expressed wishes for Serbia to join the European Union by 2026.

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