Spanish premier’s visit to Beijing brings Spain closer to China, but not on Ukraine


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday said that his official visit to China allowed him to deepen bilateral ties and encourage China to back Ukraine against Russia’s ‘illegal aggression.’ In his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Sanchez said he shared Spain’s support for Ukraine’s peace plan – not China’s – and encouraged the Chinese leader to talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. ‘There are those who assume that the 21st century will be fragmented, divided and marked by conflict. We don’t think that will benefit anyone,’ said Sanchez. ‘So instead of protectionism, Spain will always defend opening to partners.’ ‘The future can be one of international prosperity and cooperation, and I think this visit to China is helping us build that,’ he continued. When asked by reporters to share Xi’s position on Ukraine, Sanchez refused to offer any details. The Spanish prime minister also held separate meetings with Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang and top legislator Zhao Leji on Friday. As a result, Spain and China decided to restart the high-level dialogue that began in 2018, expand the Spanish Embassy in Beijing and restart the commission for industrial cooperation. ‘Spain wants a balanced and respectful relationship based on reciprocity that will benefit us both,’ Sanchez said. In line with correcting the massive trade imbalance between China and Spain, he announced that Beijing has approved imports of almonds and persimmons from Spain. According to Sanchez, that will mean by 2025, 40% of Spain’s almond production will be exported to China. The Spanish prime minister encouraged Chinese authorities for more similar approvals and to make it easier for Spanish companies to do business in China. Meanwhile, the countries agreed that Spain will open a new Cervantes Institute in Shanghai, making it ‘the first country with more than one official cultural center in China,’ said Sanchez. Tourism was another subject of discussion, and the Spanish prime minister announced that a China-Spain tourism forum would be held in June. Sanchez said he also discussed Spain taking over the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU in July. In that role, Sanchez said Spain will try to bring the EU and China together on questions like human rights and improve symmetrical trade relations. ‘The relationship between the EU and China is complicated. It’s also very important,’ he said.

Source: Anadolu Agency – English