CHINA'S long-serving espionage chief Jia Chunwang has been given a warm welcome by his Serbian counterpart during a tour of the former Yugoslavia. The Chinese Minister of State Security was shown around Montenegro and Serbia by his counterpart, Jovica Stanisic, and the Serbian Defence Minister, Koran Sokolovic. Mr Jia was received by President Slobodan Milosevic, who expressed his pleasure at China's 'objective and principled position', according to the Tanjug news agency. China favours lifting United Nations economic sanctions against the Belgrade Government and it opposes NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serbs. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China's support has been courted by leaders from the former Yugoslavia. In the past four months, Beijing has received visits from Bosnia, Macedonia and Croatia as well as from the wife of Mr Milosevic, ardent communist Mira Markovic. In addition, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen has demonstrated China's interest in the area by meeting the foreign ministers of all the republics which emerged from Yugoslavia's break-up. Although China considers itself a world power, it has been unable to define a role for itself in a conflict which has posed the greatest challenge to the UN in the post Cold War era. China's official policy is to urge all sides to settle their differences peacefully and to oppose sanctions. 'The Chinese would like to do something but they don't know what,' an east European analyst said. China is believed to have rejected approaches made by some countries to supply resources, including manpower for the peace-keeping effort. But the disintegration of a communist state with which China enjoyed good relations after the death of Mao has attracted attention.