Mariano Rajoy with the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, in Beijing./ Photo: Moncloa.
The Diplomat. 09/05/2017
Next year, the Government of Mariano Rajoy plans to open a new Consulate General in the Chinese city of Chengdu, which will be the fifth Spanish legation of these characteristics in the Asian giant after the centres of Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Canton.
Chengdu has 20 million inhabitants and it is the main industrial and economic hub of the centre and west of China thanks to its diversified economy. The growth rate in the province was higher than the national average in 2016 (7.7% compared to 6.5% and its GDP increased by 450,760 million dollars). Besides, it has the country’s fourth most important airport and it is building its second international airport.
At the moment, Chengdu hosts the consular offices of fourth EU countries -Germany, France, Poland and the Czech Republic-. The United States, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, India, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka also have consular presence there.
Spain had a “limited” consular and diplomatic presence in China, according to information provided to The Diplomat by diplomatic sources in March. Therefore, the office in Chengdu will cover the provinces of the country’s centre and west. In parallel, the Secretariat for Trade –which depends on the Minister of Economy, Luis de Guindos- will open a commercial office in the aforementioned city.
In December, the Chinese group HNA increased its air connections between China and Spain with a new direct flight Chengdu-Madrid operated by its subsidiary Beijing Capital Airlines, which adds to the one this airline already has between Hangzhou and the Spanish capital. This new link strengthens connections between China and Spain, which were already improved in 2016 with the set in motion of the routes connecting Madrid to Shanghai, with Iberia and China Eastern, and to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, which add to the flights Air China already has from Beijing to Madrid and Barcelona.