Trip to China by the President of the Government

Pedro Sánchez: "I have conveyed to Xi Jinping that Spain supports Zelenski's Formula for Peace and I have encouraged him to hold talks with the Ukrainian President"

President's News - 2023.3.31

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Beijing (China)

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, has met in Beijing with the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, during his official visit that has also included two bilateral meetings with the Premier Li Qiang and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Zhao Leji.

This trip, President Sánchez underlined, has taken place at a particularly symbolic moment for the two countries, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. "The world has changed enormously in five decades, so this is an excellent opportunity to renew the ties that bind us", he said.

Pedro Sánchez has met with the three highest authorities in the country: President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang and the President of the National People's Congress, Zhao Leji. These bilateral meetings have been hugely profitable for exploring three subjects in depth: the relaunching of relations between China and Spain after the pandemic, EU-Chinese relations, and several of the global and strategic challenges that define the current international situation.

Spain and China have today adopted several agreements and laid the foundations to give new impetus to cooperation between the two countries. This was emphasised by the President of the Government, who noted that they will now resume the High-Level Dialogues established in 2018, strengthen cooperation in economic and trade matters and resume the Joint Commission for Economic and Industrial Cooperation. "We are also going to expand the Spanish embassy in Beijing, with a new finance counsellor's office," he said.

During the official trip, President Sánchez also met with a group of businessmen based in China. "I have asked the Chinese authorities to work to ease the conditions for foreign companies," he said. As far as bilateral trade relations are concerned, the President of the Government welcomed the adoption of two phytosanitary protocols for the export of persimmon and almonds, for which the Chinese market has enormous potential. "The sector forecasts that by 2025, some 50,000 tonnes of Spanish almonds could be exported to China, representing more than 40% of production". In this context, the president has conveyed to the Chinese authorities his willingness to speed up the adoption of protocols of this nature for more agri-food products.

Meeting between the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, and the President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping | Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

On the subject of tourism and culture, the President of the Government recalled that the Spain-China Dual Year of Culture and Tourism will be celebrated in 2023, and welcomed the fact that Spain has been included in the list of countries to which Chinese travellers can travel in groups. In this context, President Sánchez was able to hear first-hand the needs of the Chinese tour operator sector during a meeting in which they expressed their great interest in the Spanish tourism offer. "In 2019, more than 700,000 Chinese tourists chose Spain as a holiday destination and we hope to soon be able to recover the pre-pandemic figures and even surpass them," the president said. "We are making every effort to facilitate the issuing of the corresponding visas to Chinese tourists, and I am happy to announce that we will be holding a new edition of the Spain-China Tourism Forum this year," he said.

During the visit, an important agreement was reached for the opening of a Cervantes Centre in Shanghai. "We will become the first country in the world with two cultural centres in the People's Republic of China," he announced. "The prime minister himself has indicated to me that this is a highly exceptional measure and an expression of the friendship and cooperation between our two countries," the president highlighted.

The trip was also an opportunity to discuss cooperation in education and sports. In this regard, Spain and China have today signed the new Education Cooperation Programme for the years 2023-2026, and a memorandum of understanding between the Higher Council for Sports and its Chinese counterpart.

The President of the Government had the opportunity to discuss EU-Chinese relations with the Chinese authorities. As the country that will assume the presidency of the Council of the EU next July, Spain will try to boost relations between the two regions, "which are called upon to cooperate", said the president, and especially in global challenges such as climate change, the strengthening of multilateralism and the fight against growing inequality. "I have conveyed to the Chinese authorities that we welcome the resumption of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue and my hope that this dialogue will be ongoing", he said.

In economic and trade matters, the President of the Government conveyed to the Chinese authorities the need to find a better balance in our economic and trade relations, respecting the rules of the game, improving transparency and guaranteeing reciprocity in access to markets, matters he also addressed this Wednesday at the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia. "These changes are necessary for the global economy to continue to grow and to guarantee the EU's open strategic autonomy, the two main objectives that are currently guiding Spanish foreign policy", he explained.

The bilateral meetings between the president and the country's three highest authorities have also served to address global issues, and in this regard, he was able to convey his concern about Russia's illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. Pedro Sánchez stressed the need to continue to support a just and lasting peace, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, and one that respects the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the attacked country, Ukraine, as called for by President Zelenski in his Formula for Peace, which Spain supports, as Pedro Sánchez expressed to President Xi. He encouraged the President of the People's Republic of China to hold talks with President Zelenski, as it is Ukraine's right to decide on the conditions for accepting negotiations.

"Some take it for granted that the 21st century will be a century of fragmentation, warlike tensions and division between blocs, but we believe that a drift of this kind would benefit no one and that it need not happen," he stressed. In this regard, he emphasised that among the protectionism and mistrust that loom on the horizon, Spain will defend realistic and fair openness and trust between partners, based on symmetrical cooperation, mutual benefit and respect for the rules.

Non official translation