Need for closer China-Spain coordination to safeguard global peace, stability
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Spain.
Since the two countries set up diplomatic relations on March 9, 1973, ties between the two countries have been proceeding steadily and smoothly, thanks to both sides adhering to the principles of mutual trust, equality, and mutual benefit.
The year 2005 saw mutual ties elevated into a comprehensive strategic partnership, which was further boosted in 2018 when enhanced bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields opened new prospects for China-Spain comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era.
So marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries this year would be a good opportunity for a review of the brilliant achievements in international affairs, trade and investment, and culture and people-to-people exchanges, so as to elevate mutual relations to a new level.
Spain is the second largest country in the European Union, after France, and a major actor in EU affairs. It also plays a considerable role in European and global affairs.
During the past 50 years, China and Spain have been engaged in close international collaboration in responding to climate change, promoting the renewable energy revolution, fighting terrorism and transnational organized crime, and in safeguarding rules-based multilateral cooperation.
Today, the world is at a crossroads in history, confronted with unprecedented challenges posed by growing deficits in peace, development, security and governance.
In view of such challenges, the Global Security Initiative Concept Paper published by China in February 21 this year calls on countries to adapt to the profoundly changing international landscape in the spirit of solidarity, and address the complex and intertwined security challenges with a win-win mindset.
Given the relatively high degree of Spanish agreement with China on assessment of current international issues and situation, China-Spain cooperation in global security affairs will go a long way toward resolving international conflicts, by injecting more stability and solidity into these turbulent times.
The two countries have been both proactive in honoring their commitments to address climate change, therefore placing a high premium on the plan, development and cooperation over green economy.
In 2006, a China-Spain Memorandum of Understanding on climate change and clean development laid a solid foundation for enhancing mutual cooperation in science and technology and environment.
Economic ties are equally impressive.
China is Spain's biggest non-EU trade partner and Spain is China's sixth largest EU trade partner, with bilateral trade hitting US$51.514 billion in 2022.
In light of the Belt and Road Initiative, China-EU investment agreements, and the strategic partnership, bilateral cooperation now covers a full spectrum of sectors ranging from food, chemicals, medicine, finance, energy, telecom, transport, architecture, media to aviation.
The ravages of the pandemic over the past three years have affected the two countries' economies to different degrees. Especially against the backdrop of the turbulent times of deglobalization, given accelerating new revolution in science and industry, the thorough-going restructuring of the global supply chains is posing severe challenges – as well as opportunities – to China-Spain economic and trade cooperation.
In Spain's vision for post-pandemic recovery conceived in April 2021, there was explicit emphasis on sustainable development of the 5G network, digital economy and green development. Since development of the digital economy has also been a Chinese priority, there is great potential for China-Spain cooperation in this sphere.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have also been exemplary in exchanges and mutual learning in view of their respectively long and illustrious civilizations.
Since the strategic partnership, the Confucius Institute in Spain and the Cervantes Institute in Beijing and Shanghai have played major roles in facilitating cultural exchanges and understanding between the two countries. As learning Chinese became a new trend in Spain, the number of people sitting for HSK in Spain has been the highest of all European countries for many years.
In the tourism sector, to attract more Chinese tourists to Spain, 2007 was designated the "Year of Spain in China" to promote introduction of Spanish culture to China. Similarly, Chinese Spring Festival fairs have also been sponsored in Spain since 2010.
Following the optimization of pandemic control measures in China, the number of Chinese tourists to Spain is growing robustly.
The Spanish tourist administration already sponsored a tourist promotion in Guangzhou in February this year. It is believed that fast recovery in cultural and tourist exchanges would lay a solid social foundation for friendship between the two countries.
With the world now confronted with a host of challenges, ranging from political disturbances, armed conflicts, energy crisis, climate change, to ageing, there is need for closer coordination and communication between China and Spain with a view to safeguarding global peace and stability.
(The author is deputy director of the Journalism Institute, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. Wan Lixin translated the story.)