The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, will visit China this week following a formal invitation by President Xi Jinping.
The invitation comes as Spain prepares to take over the Presidency of the European Union in July and as China seeks to position itself as a global mediator in the war in Ukraine after a state visit by Xi to Moscow last week.
Sanchez is becoming something of a global trotter.
Last week, he was in Belgium for consultations in readiness for Spain’s takeover of the EU Presidency, whilst this week sees him at the 28th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government in Santo Domingo, before he flies to China on March 30th.
There, Sanchez is set to take part in the Boao Forum for Asia which is an Asian version of the World Economic Forum in Davos – which Sanchez also attended, before heading to Beijing the following day to meet the Chinese President.
Speaking at the Santo Domingo Summit he said that “we live in times of great uncertainty,” referring to the pandemic and the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “It is also a time of great transformations, and it is now that Ibero-America must redefine its strategy, looking towards the future”.
That strategy must surely include China which is increasingly prominent in world affairs.
Sánchez sobre su próximo encuentro con Xi Jinping en China. pic.twitter.com/JHkhexcFBi
— Wall Street Wolverine (@wallstwolverine) March 23, 2023
The Spanish Government spokesmen, Felix Bolaños, said the trip highlights “the weight that Spain and Pedro Sanchez have in the world” and that “China has a key role to play in mediating the war”.
Bolaños said the visit would also be important from a trade and economic perspective, as Sanchez plans to meet with the Asia Pacific Forum and Spanish businesses operating in China.
Last week Xi concluded a three-day trip to Moscow, where he described China’s position on the conflict as “impartial”, putting forward a 12-point peace plan including comprehensive ceasefire.
Spain, which hosted the NATO Summit last year in Madrid is a strong ally of Ukraine and as holder of the EU Presidency, will have the limelight for any possible negotiatings on behalf of the European block.
Sanchez has also visited Kyiv twice and has expressed his “unconditional support” to the country including last month pledging Spanish Leopard tanks to help fight Russia.
The latest meeting between Sanchez and Xi was in November 2022 during the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.