By Jose Miguel Blanco
Boao, China, Mar 30 (EFE).- Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez put his nation forward as a “reliable” partner for China in trade, investment and conflict resolution at the Boao Forum in China’s Hainan province on Thursday.
Sánchez’s intervention at the opening of the annual summit was the first engagement of his visit to the Asian country. He is due to meet with president Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday.
The war in Ukraine is expected to be discussed at that meeting, given that Sánchez will be the first European leader to meet Xi since the Chinese president cemented ties with Russia during talks this month with president Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
In his speech at the launch of the economic forum, Sánchez denounced Russia’s “brutal and illegal” aggression in Ukraine, and said that there was a broad consensus among international partners for “peace, stability and prosperity” and that “no one wanted economic fragmentation or war.”
The Spanish premier said that the world needed responsible and constructive actors to tackle the crises linked to the war in Ukraine.
“That is what Spain wants to be, a reliable and open country and an active member of all large multilateral organizations,” he added.
The PM welcomed China’s efforts towards securing peace in Ukraine, after Beijing unveiled a 12-point peace place calling for peace talks and abandoning a “cold war mentality”.
Sánchez said it was necessary to “rebuild trust through dialogue, solidarity and cooperation,” and that Spain was willing to contribute to those efforts.
He pointed out that Madrid would soon be holding the presidency of the European Union and he stressed that Europe and China must compete in some areas and cooperate in others.
On the global economy, Sánchez warned that “a fragmented world dominated by protectionist tendencies represents a return to the past.”
“Both Asia and Europe have prospered hand in hand for centuries and can continue to do so now,” he said.
Sánchez argued that “full reciprocity between partners and providing a stable regulatory framework that allows domestic and foreign companies to compete on a level playing field” would be required for EU-China relations to flourish.
“It means opening up the East so that the West does not have to close in on itself,” he added.
His comments came after China’s premier Li Qiang vowed Beijing was committed to delivering reforms that would boost global economic growth.
“We will introduce a series of new measures in expanding market access and optimizing the business environment,” Li said in his first address to an international audience since being sworn into office two weeks ago.
Sánchez championed Spain’s ties with China, saying bilateral trade had doubled between 2017 and 2022 to reach 57.7 billion euros.
The PM pitched Spain as one of Europe’s top destinations to do business due to its strategic geopolitical location, solid private sector, highly qualified workforce and first-class digital infrastructure.
As he wrapped up his speech, Sanchez flagged three areas of collaboration: reinforcing multilateralism because “no problem can be solved unilaterally”, accelerating the fight against climate change and achieving the United Nations’ sustainable development goals.EFE