On the surface it was something like he arrived, said hello, had his picture taken and left. But those who think so are, once again, very, very wrong. The strategic Spanish-Chinese phytosanitary agreement promoted by the president of the PSOE-Unidas Podemos coalition government, Pedro Sánchez, has left the world's leaders dumbfounded, stunned and amazed.
The meeting in Beijing of two stars of international politics, Presidents Sánchez and Xi Jinping, has so captured the interest of foreign ministries, political scientists and intelligence services around the world that even now, two weeks later, the echoes of its enormous global repercussions can still be heard.
The Moncloa Palace's Battalion of Advisors - the well-known BATAPLOF - tried in every way possible to ensure that President Sánchez's visit to Beijing would go unnoticed, but it is clear that they have succeeded. And this despite the fact that on 31 March, the same day as the meeting between the two leaders, Xi Jinping also received and held separate talks with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong.
The meeting between the two leading figures of the bullfighting - excuse me, I mean political scene - has had the same significance and media attention on a global scale as the details surrounding the birth of the granddaughter of the versatile actress Ana Obregón. The two events have kept millions of people and major investors on the New York, London and Hong Kong stock exchanges almost paralysed and expectant for several days.
It is known that in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin remained huddled and distressed. He was fearful of the pressure that President Sanchez could exert on Xi Jinping, so that the Chinese leader would abandon Russia to its fate in the Ukrainian war. That is why the Russian intelligence services camouflaged their most prized secret agent, Michael Strogoff, not to be confused with the famous courier of the tsar of the same name, praised by the novelist Jules Verne in 1876... and surely now deceased, inside a Chinese vase.
Pedro Sánchez's one-day visit to Beijing did not end with a joint press appearance with Chinese Premier Li Qiang. That is vulgar. It seems that the Spanish president had the good taste to beg him not to bother travelling to the Spanish embassy in Beijing, where the large-scale meeting with the media was to take place.
Sánchez wanted to spare the Chinese politician the bad experience of contemplating the façade and the interior of the superb building of the Spanish diplomatic representation, the most luxurious of all the official headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by José Manuel Albares, around the world. It is a Greco-Roman neo-Gothic building with a touch of Art Deco, coveted by all the ambassadors accredited in the Chinese capital, including that of the United States.
Once before the journalists, President Sánchez said he wanted to "go over the main results of the visit". After revealing to those present that "China has become one of the world's leading economies" - something they were unaware of and which left them bewildered - he anticipated, to general surprise, that "we are going to resume the Joint Commission for Industrial Economic Cooperation", from which it can be deduced that it must have been paralysed for several years.
The president left a real bombshell for the end of his speech. With his characteristic modesty, he announced that he had managed to secure from Xi Jinping no less than "two phytosanitary protocols for the export of persimmon and almonds". As the two agreements are going to have a high impact on the national economy, as proof of his generosity, the president allowed the Spanish ambassador in Beijing, the diplomat Rafael Dezcallar -brother of the former director of the CNI, Jorge Dezcallar- to sign them and not any minister or secretary of state.
But Sánchez, very naughty, said nothing about the consequences of the agreement: the well-known rise in the price of turrón de Jijona and turrón de Alicante - better known as turrón blando and duro, respectively -, nor about the foreseeable rise in the price of the packet of sugared almonds. Fortunately, as far as is known, it was not agreed to expand ham exports...
Pedro Sánchez stressed that farmers in Andalusia, Aragon, Castilla-La Mancha, the Valencian Community and the Region of Murcia are going to be "particularly benefited", many of whom have already enrolled in online distance learning courses to learn Mandarin Chinese.
The president told journalists that "I have expressed to President Xi Spain's support for the peace formula that President Zelenski launched a few months ago (...) and I have encouraged him to hold a conversation with Zelenski to learn first-hand about the Ukrainian government's peace plan". On the other hand, the local newspaper China Daily, in its 4 April edition, stresses that 'Sánchez told President Xi that Spain speaks positively of China's document on the political solution to the Ukrainian crisis'.
It should be noted that, in a display of Spanish gallantry, Pedro Sánchez could, but did not want to, go to China with an entourage of Spanish businessmen to sign contracts or lay the groundwork for new business deals. But he left that tiny task to the President of the Republic of France, Emmanuel Macron, who arrived in the Chinese capital five days later.
Macron landed in Beijing with around 50 senior officials and leading French businessmen, including the chief executive of European aerospace and defence corporation Airbus, Frenchman Guillaume Faury, and the chief executive of Airbus Helicopters, Bruno Even. The latter signed a contract for the sale of 50 H160 helicopters to the Chinese company GDAT.
Fortunately, a major part of all the H160s that have just been sold - the so-called "pure tail" - will be manufactured at Airbus Helicopters' Albacete factory, which is managed by Fernando Lombo. Guillaume Faury met with the chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, Zheng Shanjie, to promote the joint development of digital technologies and to expand the aircraft assembly factory that has existed since 2008 in the port city of Tianjin, near Beijing.
And with Song Zhiyong, the head of China's National Civil Aviation Authority, to strengthen cooperation in the field of aviation safety and airworthiness. The rest of the entourage also benefited from their stay in Beijing, for example in space cooperation and in the field of nuclear energy. In other words, more or less the same as the Spanish delegation...