This Thursday, the Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchezwill head towards China this Thursday, March 30, to hold a meeting with President Xi Jinping, in order to strengthen bilateral relations and put on the table the main current geopolitical issues to be discussed, thus being the most relevant and urgent war in Ukraine and, consequently, the dialogue that the Asian power is maintaining with Russia.
And it is that at the moment in which this meeting takes place it is more than key, not only because of the conflict that is taking place at the gates of Europe, but also because Spain will shortly assume the presidency of the European Union and, from the international level Just a week ago, Jinping traveled to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin.
Sánchez has warned these days ago that, despite the fact that he will attend “first-hand” the position of the Chinese president on the war, the main objective continues to be find a peaceful solutionconsidering at the same time that it will be more than beneficial if Jinping also meets with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Upon his arrival in Beijing, Sánchez is expected to be received by the country’s three highest authorities: Chinese President Xi Jinping; the first Minister, li qiang; and the president of the Standing Committee of the People’s Assembly, Zhang Dejiang.
Within this framework of strengthening international bilateral ties, Spain has recognized that some points raised by Beijing are of great relevance, such as its reaffirmation of the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.
At the same time, China has rejected all forms and circumstances in which they can be used nuclear weaponsin addition to considering in the same degree a threat of the use of these weapons.
However, there are other aspects that Sánchez has not received with good eyes: the fact of presenting in a plane of equal conditions to the aggressor and the attacked. A theory that is perfectly understood with the war in Ukraine, since Russia has invaded the neighboring country without any justification.
Sánchez, the first leader of the European parade
It should be noted that Pedro Sánchez will be the first European head of government to travel to China on the list of other Union leaders who will do so weeks after him, so the Spanish head of government will set the pace for the rest of his counterparts in regarding concerns regarding the war in Ukraine and its economic and social consequences, among other aspects.
It will be with this dynamic as the French president, Emmanuel Macron; the Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni; or the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyenthey will transfer to Xi Jinping the union and firmness of the EU in terms of its position in favor of Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, which is now more than a year since that distant February 24, 2022.
In the case of Sánchez, the visit becomes even more relevant, understood within the national and European context, due to the current Presidency of the EU in the second half of the year, -specifically, from July 1- and because it meets el 50th anniversary of the bilateral relationship between both countries. Reasons why it is of the utmost importance to strengthen existing ties.
Government sources have specified these days that the official visit of Sánchez to Beijing also translates as the return of the state visit made by the Chinese president back in 2018, moments in which a set of mechanisms and instruments of political agreement was sealed, such as economic and commercial collaborations, which could not be completed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Geopolitics and the bilateral relationship will not be the only exclusive aspects to be discussed at the meeting, but this is a visit that entails a high economic burden that will benefit both parties. First of all, Sánchez will attend what is known as the ‘Davos Chino’, that is, the Boao Forum of Asiaa business and economic event that has great similarities with the one held in Switzerland.
This Thursday’s economic meeting will be chaired by the former UN Secretary General, ban ki moon, and in which representatives of up to 28 countries will also be present, among which Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore stand out. In the same way, the Spanish president will take the opportunity to hold a bilateral meeting with Kristalina Georgievamanaging director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in addition to other meetings with the directors of companies such as AstraZeneca.
On the other hand, China is Spain’s main supplier, while Spanish exports are currently in eleventh place in the Asian giant. This is how the Government considers that there is room for improvement, especially with regard to agri-food productsbut it would be necessary for China to relax some of its rules that negatively affect sales in this great market.
As the third key point of Sánchez’s visit to China, what is the main driver of the Spanish economy stands out: The tourism. And it is that it will be in these two days that the President of the Government will seek to promote the advantages and charms of the country in these terms before a dozen tour operators.
The restrictions due to the pandemic in 2020 seriously fractured the sector but, with the recovery that was experienced in Europe and, recently, China’s decision to authorize group travel of its population to other countries, they want to give it another chance.
The opposition enters into evaluations
Days ago, from his appearance after the EPP summit in Brussels, the president of the Popular Party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, downplayed Sánchez’s visit to China, arguing that it is one more responsibility on Moncloa’s agenda, with even greater weight due to the Spanish Presidency in the EU this summer. “Before presiding over the EU, it is normal; Rajoy already saw Xi in Beijing when he presided over the Executive”, he defended, thus recalling said visit, which took place in May 2017.
This Wednesday, sources from Genoa have remarked that the fact that the presidents travel “is not exceptional”, maintaining at the same time that Sánchez has “neither competences nor capacity” to “mediate” on the current state of the war between Ukraine and Russia “after what happened in Moscow and without the EU Presidency”.