Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in Serbia for a visit meant to boost relations with the friendly nation and assert China's intention to increase its presence in the Balkans and Europe.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and government officials welcomed Xi as he landed at Belgrade's airport on Friday. A Serbian folk group performed traditional dances as part of the welcoming ceremony.

During his three-day stay, Xi will hold meetings with top officials and visit a Serbian steel plant purchased by a Chinese company. Serbian leaders have described the visit as historic.

China has been seeking opportunities to deepen ties to the region — several meetings of southeast European countries and China have been held in the past years and accompanied by investment projects, mostly in energy and infrastructure.