Xi kicks off visit to Spain

Global Times | 作者: Cao Siqi | 时间: 2018-11-29 | 责编: Wang Jiapei
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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday kicked off his visit to Spain, the first state visit to the country by a Chinese president in 13 years. The visit is expected to further promote the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) and consolidate ties with the continent.

According to Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao, China and Spain will publish a joint statement and sign documents on their cooperation in third-party markets, service trade, taxation, culture, finance and science and technology, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

It is Xi's first visit to Europe since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and comes before his planned meeting with US President Donald Trump in Buenos Aires, Xinhua reported. 

Xi will attend the 13th Group of 20 (
G20) summit from Friday to Saturday in Buenos Aires, visit Panama from Sunday to Monday and Portugal next Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Chinese observers told the Global Times that against the backdrop of rising unilateralism and protectionism, Xi's visit will be a starting point for the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides to open a new chapter as Spain is an active supporter of globalization and multilateralism and shares a broad consensus with China on safeguarding an open world economy.

Xi said in a signed article published in the Spanish newspaper ABC on Tuesday that the main objective of his visit is to work with leaders of the world's major economies on reinforcing the unity of the international community, improving global governance, developing partnership, deepening friendly cooperation and promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity of the planet.

Analysts also noted that this visit will be a chance for the Chinese President to elaborate on the China-proposed BRI and encourage more countries to participate. 

Multilateralism safeguards

Xi's visit to Spain falls on the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

"The visit is sending a clear signal that China, Spain, and the European Union (EU) will firmly safeguard multilateralism and a rules-based free trade system," Cui Hongjian, head of the department for European studies at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

During the visit, deals will be reached to help Spain address its debt crisis and anemic economic growth, Cui said. 

In response to the Western media's accusations of a chronic trade deficit with China, Cui argued that the main trade flow of Spain goes to the EU and the trade volume between China and Spain has been increasing in recent years. 

According to Xinhua, the bilateral trade volume has grown from $12 million at the beginning of establishment of diplomatic ties to over $30.9 billion in 2017.

Promoting cooperation with Spain and Portugal will consolidate China's ties with other European countries, Cui said, and further enhance cooperation with other Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries.

Better engagement 

Spanish King Felipe VI said on Thursday at the Zarzuela Palace in a meeting with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi that his country will more actively participate in the China-proposed BRI.

The king said the initiative is of great significance to regional and global development and prosperity, and Spain will participate in it more actively, adding that his country will expand third-party market cooperation with China.

Chinese Ambassador to Spain Lyu Fan also told the media that Xi will promote the docking of the development strategies in the framework of BRI, and strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields, Xinhua reported. 

Spain has been showing interest in BRI and the two countries have made significant achievements on actual cooperation, said Cui, citing the freight train between China's small commodity hub Yiwu and Spain's capital Madrid as an important bridge across the Eurasian continent and a typical BRI construction achievement.

Jiang Shixue, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Shanghai University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that during the visit Xi will promote implementation of the initiative and elaborate on the principles of mutual negotiation, construction and sharing. 

During his state visit to Spain from Tuesday to Thursday, Xi is scheduled to meet with Spanish King Felipe VI, hold talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, collectively meet with President of the Senate Pio Garcia Escudero and President of the Parliament Ana Pastor Julian, and address the two houses.



Source: Global Times, November 27, 2018.