Spain will speed up visa applications for Chinese visitors, Beijing’s state media said Friday, the latest European country to streamline travel rules to attract a larger share of tourists from the Asian giant. The move was reported as Spanish Prime Minister Manuel Rajoy met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
More than 200,000 Chinese tourists visited Spain last year, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The figure is expected to reach nearly 300,000 this year. Visas will be processed within 48 hours under the new system, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported. It did not provide a timeframe for the change.
“The main goal of my current visit to China is to strengthen Spain’s political relationship, bilateral relationship and the economic and trade cooperation with China,” Rajoy said at the outset of his meeting with Xi at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. “We hope that we could strengthen our economic and trade cooperation. Chinese companies could invest more in Spain, and Spanish firms could invest more in China as well,” he added.
Xi called Spain “China’s good friend and an important partner in the EU”.
“Although we are far away from each other, and we have distinct systems, cultures and traditions, we don’t have fundamental conflicts between us and don’t have any historical problems,” he said.
During the visit, Rajoy also met with Chinese premier Li Keqiang, National People’s Congress Chairman Zhang Dejiang and Spanish business leaders. Boosting trade with China — Spain’s third-largest source for imports — has been a primary focus of Rajoy’s four-day trip, which concludes Saturday, On Thursday, Rajoy and Li signed 14 deals worth more than $4 billion, in areas including “alfalfa export, film, nuclear power, telecommunication, finance, wind electricity, sea water desalination and tourism”, Xinhua reported.