Spain’s prime minister uses China trip to call for end to Ukraine war and less protectionism 

ON THE FIRST stop of his two-day visit to China, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez used a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia to call for Chinese leaders to help stop the war in Ukraine and also to steer away from protectionism. 

‘Humanity is facing global challenges on an unprecedented scale,’ he told the attendees at the event in the city of Boao. ‘Climate change, the pandemic and the brutal and illegal aggression by Russia against Ukraine that is causing a severe humanitarian crisis, food insecurity, inflation and growing debt distress in an increasing number of vulnerable countries.’

The trip marks the third international visit in a week for the Socialist Party leader. He has already visited the Council of Europe in Brussels and the Ibero-American Summit in Dominican Republic. 

He also made a brief return to Spain, where on Monday he visited the fire crews battling a wildfire in Castellon province, and also announced a Cabinet reshuffle

‘In less than a week I will have met with more than 40 world leaders from three different continents. And I will be clear,’ he said during today’s speech at the forum, the theme of which is ‘An uncertain world: Solidarity and development cooperation in the midst of challenges’. 

Part of Pedro Sanchez’s speech in China on Thursday.

‘In all the meetings I have heard the same desire for peace, stability and prosperity,’ he continued, adding that ‘no one wants economic fragmentation or war’.

During his speech in Boao today he was careful not to specifically mention delicate issues for the Chinese regime such as human rights, but he did convey several messages to the country’s leadership. 

He stressed Spain’s support for a ‘rules-based international order’ and the importance of free trade to promote stability and prosperity. 

‘A fragmented world ruled by protectionist tendencies is a return to the past,’ he said, ‘with all its shadows and uncertainties.’

Spain for foreign investment

He also took advantage of the forum to promote Spain as a place for foreign investment. ‘Spain is today one of the best places in Europe to invest and do business,’ he said. 

‘We offer an ideal geopolitical position, between three continents, a vibrant and robust private sector, world-class digital and physical infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, and affordable clean energy, not to mention the institutional stability and legal certainty that investments need to flourish,’ he continued.

As well as appearing at the Boao Forum, Sanchez’s official visit will also include meetings with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Zhao Leji.

Spain will be taking over the rotating presidency of the European Union in July, and the prime minister has in recent months been on a mission to portray the country as an influential player on the world stage.

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