The President of the Government will discuss the 12-point proposal to end the war in Europe with the Chinese leader on Friday

Sánchez will be the first European leader to discuss the peace plan for Ukraine with Xi Jinping

photo_camera PHOTO/LA MONCLOA - Chinese Premier Li Qiang receives Pedro Sánchez at the Boao Forum

The head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, will be the first European leader to meet with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, tomorrow, Friday, following the latter's meeting in Moscow with Vladimir Putin and the presentation of the Chinese proposal to end the war in Ukraine. 

Sánchez arrives in Beijing today after participating in the Boao Forum for Asia, an economic event considered the 'Asian Davos' and held on the Chinese island of Hainan, where he offered Spain as a "reliable" partner to receive investments and collaborate multilaterally in the resolution of conflicts and the search for peace. 

The Spanish president's agenda for Friday includes, in addition to the meeting with Xi, meetings with the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Qiang; with the President of the National People's Congress (NPC), Zhao Leji, and with Spanish businessmen and Chinese tour operators. 

With regard to the bilateral meeting with Xi, the most important issue is the achievement of peace in Ukraine, especially given that Spain will assume the European presidency in the second half of 2023.  

Although Sánchez has assured his Chinese counterpart that the Chinese proposal - received with scepticism in the West - has interesting points, he will convey to his Chinese counterpart that there can be no equidistance in the face of the conflict because there is a clear aggressor, Russia, and that this is the common position of the European Union, according to Spanish diplomatic sources. However, the same sources stressed that the Spanish leader is not travelling as a mediator or spokesperson for the EU. 

While China insists on its neutrality in this conflict, a good number of international observers believe that Beijing de facto supports Moscow. This is based on facts such as the fact that the Asian giant has never expressly condemned or referred to Russian aggression or invasion, and that the Chinese leader has not yet spoken to the Ukrainian leader, Volodymir Zelenski, but has spoken repeatedly to Putin. 

Sánchez, who met with Zelenski in Kiev in February, also plans to defend to his interlocutor the peace plan of the Ukrainian president, who this week invited Xi to visit his country. 

Apart from the conflict in Ukraine, the framework of Sánchez's visit is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and China, half a century during which ties have remained stable and with few ups and downs. The head of the Spanish government told journalists accompanying him on this trip that he will discuss bilateral relations with Chinese leaders, as well as those between the EU and China. 

Within the framework of trade relations (China is Spain's leading supplier, with a very favourable balance of trade for the Asian country), Sánchez will discuss with some of his interlocutors the situation regarding access for Spanish meat exports to China. 

Spain also hopes that non-tariff barriers on its agri-food products can be eased and that connectivity with China can be restored to pre-pandemic levels in order to encourage the arrival of Chinese tourists and trade at all levels. 

"Spain is consolidating its position as one of the best places to invest" 

After meeting in China with representatives of Mitsubishi and Astrazeneca, Sánchez said on Thursday that Spain is consolidating its position as one of the best places in the world to invest. The President of the Government held meetings with executives from these companies on the sidelines of the Boao Economic Forum held on the island of Hainan before travelling to Beijing to continue the agenda of his official visit to China. 

Spanish government sources reported that the aim of these meetings was to discuss new investments by Mitsubishi and Astrazeneca in Spain, which they said were still at a very early stage. 

The head of the Executive pointed out on social networks after both meetings that Spain boosts its commercial relations with industries of the future and this led him to insist that it is one of the best destinations in the world for investment. 

Spain's positive elements for this were present in his speech at the Boao Economic Forum. Specifically, he highlighted the country's "ideal" geopolitical position at the intersection of three continents, a solid private sector, first-rate digital infrastructure, a highly qualified workforce, clean and affordable energy, institutional stability and legal security. 

Sánchez also held a meeting with another of the participants in the economic forum, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva. With her, according to Spanish sources, he analysed the global economic situation, the latest financial turbulence and Spain's economic data. They also discussed the need for free, balanced and fair trade, an aspect that Sánchez also highlighted in his speech at the forum on Hainan Island, in which he warned that a fragmented world dominated by protectionist tendencies represents a return to the past "with all its shadows and uncertainties". 

After his arrival in Beijing, Sánchez will resume his official agenda this Friday, when he will meet with the country's main authorities, including its president, Xi Jinping, with whom he will discuss the war in Ukraine.