When Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Beijing this week, they will ostensibly be celebrating half a century of diplomatic relations by discussing economic and trade ties.
However, the real subject for conversation between the two leaders will be the fate of Ukraine, analysts said, as Spain is about to join international efforts to end the invasion by Russia.Spain has been thrust centre-stage as a possible diplomatic interlocutor in the conflict because it takes over the European Union’s rotating presidency in July at a time when Europe is experiencing its first major land war since World War II.
The Spanish premier will be keen to let the Chinese Communist Party leader know when they meet on Friday that he believes Ukraine should have a right to decide on any possible peace agreement with Russia.
On February 24, exactly one year after Russia invaded Ukraine, Xi published a 12-point plan which China claimed offered a path out of the crisis in Ukraine. The plan received a cool reception from Western leaders who claimed China lacked credibility – and impartiality regarding Moscow – to lead peace efforts.
Xi, on a two-day visit to Moscow last week, made it clear to observers that he sees himself as a global mediator, including in the war between Moscow and Kyiv.
Sánchez has made no secret of the fact he wants to use the visit to China to drive home his views on what he called the “global crisis” caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Spanish premier said that during his state visit to China he would push for a fair peace in the war in Ukraine, one which guaranteed “territorial integrity”.
“The most important thing…is that when this peace is reached in Ukraine, it will be fair and lasting… and when we talk about fair, I mean that the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which has been violated by Russia, is respected,” Sánchez said during a news conference on Saturday at a meeting of Latin American leaders in the Dominican Republic.“China is a global actor, so obviously we must listen to its voice to see if between all of us, we can put an end to this war and Ukraine can recover its territorial integrity,” he said on Friday during a meeting in Madrid.
Earlier, the Spanish leader said any peace talks must be based on respect for international order established by the United Nations.
Sánchez also said it was important that Spain play a role at “such a complicated moment in geopolitical difficulties”.