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”.