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Xi’s visit a promise of intensified China-Spain ties: Spanish ambassador

By Wang Xinping, Li Yingqi (People's Daily)    17:34, November 29, 2018

A screenshot of Spanish Ambassador to China Rafael Dezcallar, who is giving an interview to People’s Daily.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Spain is an expression of the close relations both sides have and also a promise that these relations will be intensified in the future, Spanish Ambassador to China Rafael Dezcallar said in an interview with People’s Daily before Xi kicked off his trip.

Xi started his three-day state visit to Spain on Tuesday at the invitation of King Felipe VI of Spain. It is also the first state visit to the country by a Chinese head of state in 13 years.

“We have an interesting work program, we want to intensify, for instance, the exchange of high level visits between the two countries,” he said when talking about the preparation for Xi’s trip.

“Ministers coming to talk to China and going to Spain in a variety of issues, not only political and economic issues, but also issues dealing with education, with climate change, with science and technology, with many, many issues in which we can work together,” the ambassador added.

Spain is not an unacquainted country for China, as Spanish wine, ham, Paella, sensual dance Flamenco, bullfighting, football clubs of Real Madrid and Barcelona are all familiar names for Chinese households.

The country offered an active echo after China put forward the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, and is also one of the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The China-Europe freight route linking Zhejiang's Yiwu, the world's largest wholesale market for small consumer goods, with the European commodity center of Madrid by way of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has greatly boosted trade between China and Spain since its opening four years ago.

Data indicate that Spanish exports to Yiwu increased to $10.11 million in 2017 from less than $1.6 million in 2014.

Business cooperation boomed over the years. Telefónica, a Spanish multinational telecommunications company has partnered with China’s tech giant Huawei, and a consortium formed by China’s Sinopec, Spanish Técnicas Reunidas and other companies won a bid for a refinery project from Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC).

The fruits encouraged more Spanish firms to itch for a try to cooperate with Chinese partners, and local businesses even suggested their government set up a department in charge of alignment between Belt and Road Initiative and Spain’s development strategies.

Spain welcomes the Belt and Road Initiative, said Dezcallar, vowing that it is very happy to contribute, to cooperate with China in this initiative.

According to him, Spain hopes to examine the possibility of concrete projects between the Spanish firms and Chinese firms in third markets, in areas of the world where both have a presence, for instance, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Middle East.

Considering the initiative as a very good sign of China's effort to open up and to reach out to the outside world, the diplomat hopes that it will bring more benefits to people around the world.

“Chinese and Spanish people, even though we are so far away, must have something in common in the sense that we communicate very easily.” said Dezcallar, adding that Chinese people make him feel warm.

The new ambassador who assumed his post less than two months ago is impressed by the big changes taking place in China, saying that he couldn't recognize Beijing, or Shanghai in only 12 years since his last Chinese visit.

He made a special visit to China for travelling a dozen years ago after touched by China’s beautiful sceneries, culture and customs during two business trips to China.

Lauding China’s impressive rapid social development and economic growth, he said that one thing unchanged is that China is beautiful and safe.

A total of 49 Spanish firms, including the leading manufacturer of electrical equipment and interfaces Simon, participated in the first China International Import Expo held in early November with their products.

It shows the interest we had for this meeting, said the diplomat, adding that he finds this meeting an evidence of the Chinese effort to open up.

The ambassador also believes that it is very important that the China-EU investment agreement will be signed soon to tap bilateral cooperation potential.

He also expected that China’s economic growth will continue bringing positive results to China and to the rest of the world.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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