With a view to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of relations between Spain and the People's Republic of China in 2023, Spanish and Chinese civil society organised a conference on Tuesday 22 February to address the history that unites the two nations. The first lecture in a series, "Milestones and opportunities in China-Spain-Latin America relations" featured a panel of renowned experts on the subject.
Enrique Fanjul, founding partner of Iberglobal / Iberchina, as well as former commercial counsellor of the Spanish Embassy in China and with extensive experience in the Asian continent. José María Beneyto, Professor of International Public Law, specialist in China's geostrategy. And Águeda Parra, Phd analyst of China's geopolitical and technological environment and author of "China the routes of power".
This panel of experts was brought together and moderated by Laura González Escallada, founder of the Ni Hao platform, which in only 6 months has already achieved great success in its main objective: to promote ties between China and the Hispanic world, from Madrid to the Americas.
The conference took place in the auditorium of the Ateneo de Madrid, under the blessing of the Ateneo's Agrupación para el Estudio de las Culturas Orientales GAMAN, represented by its president Julio González Alcalde and its founder and secretary Brígida de Fez Algarra, who took the stage to congratulate Ni Hao and the speakers on the holding of the conference.
Enrique Fanjul opened the speech by reviewing the history of relations between Spain and China, promoted between 1972 and 1973 by the Spanish Minister Gregorio López Bravo and his Chinese counterpart Chiao Kuan Hua, who left ideologies aside to focus on what the future turned into a relationship in which commercial exchanges were the main key. "From the 1980s onwards, when China opened up to the outside world, the relationship began to grow. The volume of trade that exists today has grown enormously compared to what it was before", Fanjul pointed out in his speech.
The reasons for this success that Fanjul presented were mainly two. A key entrepreneurial dynamism, and support from the Spanish administration to back up these private interests. Essentially thanks to the FAD development aid credits put in place in the 1980s and 1990s.
Fanjul also highlighted a milestone in relations between the two countries. After the events in Tiananmen Square, the Spanish government did not follow the initiatives to sanction China economically, as other countries did. Instead, it maintained its policy of trade cooperation with the People's Republic. According to Fanjul, this made Foreign Minister Fernández Ordóñez the first European foreign minister to visit the post-Tiananmen country.
The changes that China and Spain have undergone since then have been even greater, especially for the Asian giant, which has undergone a true industrial and technological revolution that has made the country the world's leading economy. This has meant that China's foreign policy has made enormous strides, and that its current position has allowed it to become the largest emerging actor in Latin America, as Professor of International Public Law José María Beneyto pointed out.
Águeda Parra Pérez responded to this in her speech: "Its presence in Latin America is necessary, because of lithium", said the researcher. The American continent is home to three of the five largest lithium producers in the world, Parra Pérez recalled, which is essential for the Chinese technology industry, which has grown over the last 20 years.
This new "fourth industrial revolution" that China is experiencing is the main field of research of Águeda Parra Perez, who provided the conference with the data and reasons that make China the world's leading player in the field of technological innovation. "Last year, China exceeded US investment in microchips by six times," said Parra Perez during her presentation.
The conclusions drawn by the panel of experts and by the founder of Ni Hao, Laura González Escallada, made it clear that the efforts made by the Ni Hao platform are necessary to boost these relations even further. "Spain can play a key role in the triangulation paradigm. China - Spain - Latin America", summarised Beneyto. A paradigm that still has many cards and opportunities to offer the business world, and which civil society is determined to promote with this type of event and with the creation of platforms such as Ni Hao.