A guest of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants to show his country has strengthened its international influence, months before Madrid takes over the rotating EU presidency.

Sanchez will be in China tomorrow Thursday and the day after Friday, where he will hold talks with Xi after attending the Bao Forum for Asia (BFA) on Hainan Island.

This will be the second visit by an EU head of state to China since the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited the country in November, while French President Emmanuel Macron and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, are expected in early April.

Beijing’s invitation, 50 years after China and Spain established diplomatic relations, demonstrates “Spain’s international recognition at such a complicated geopolitical moment,” Sanchez said last Thursday as he arrived at an EU summit in Brussels.

His talks with the Chinese president will mainly focus on the war in Ukraine. Beijing is trying to appear as a mediator to resolve the crisis and has presented a 12-point document with proposals in this direction.

“The voice” of China “must be heard if we want to end this war,” Sanchez stressed on Friday.

Although Spain is far from Ukraine, it has taken in more than 165,000 Ukrainian refugees, placing it in fourth place among EU countries, behind Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic, according to Eurostat.

Furthermore, from July 1, Madrid takes over the rotating presidency of the EU, an issue that will also be discussed between the two leaders.

“China wants to win specific things from the EU and wants to approach Pedro Sanchez for this reason,” estimated Jose Torreplaca of the European Council on Foreign Relations.