Spain's First Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega and China's Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng on Friday evening inaugurated the "Year of Spain in China", a yearlong series of activities aimed at fostering bilateral friendship and cooperation.
Spanish artists stage a performance at the opening ceremony of the "Year of Spain in China" on Friday in Beijing.
"The Sino-Spainish relationship is now in sound development. I am totally satisfied with it," Maria told reporters after a meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday afternoon.
The two countries have laid out an ambitious agenda for the coming year, which will see the establishment of a renewable energy research center, a joint study of climate change and water pollution and the promotion and use of renewable energy, said Maria.
It is not yet known where the research center's headquarters will be located, but both countries have indicated that sustainable development will bring wealth to the two countries' peoples while leaving a better world for future generations.
Touching on trade and economic issues, Maria said that in her meeting with Wen the two have agreed that more Spanish enterprises should be encouraged to enter the Chinese market and increase exports to China.
The two countries have also decided to cooperate on projects in Latin America and Africa, said Maria. Leaders are now identifying those fields in which the two countries have interests.
"President Hu Jintao's visit to Africa has proved that China attaches great importance to the relationship with Africa. So does Spain," said Maria.
In the field of education, the two countries will work together to promote exchange visits of researchers and professors. And the two countries will recognize diplomas from universities in each other's countries.
Maria said Spain welcomed more Chinese students to study in her country and promised to provide support, including streamlined visa-issuing procedures for Chinese students who want to study in Spain.
On the cultural front, the Cervantes Institute branches in Beijing and Shanghai will organize various Spanish learning events, while China will soon set up Confucius Institutes in Spain.
Cultural exchanges will be a key part of the Year of Spain. Spanish dancing, drama, exhibitions, movies and music will be presented at various venues.
A number of Spanish actors, musicians and dancers will take part in cultural activities such as the Shanghai Art Festival. About 15 Spanish feature films will be shown during Shanghai International Film Festival. The works of award-winning photographers will also be on display in galleries across the country.
Touching on the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Maria said Spain will be happy to share with China its rich experience in organizing, publicizing and providing security for large-scale international events.
"The Spanish government and private sector would like to play a proactive role in the preparation for the games, and we hope it is a great success," she said.
China and Spain decided to hold the Spain year during Hu's visit to the country in 2005. The two sides also promised to support and promote the "Year of Spain in China" in 2007 and the "Chinese Art Festival" in Spain for the sake of further strengthening their overall strategic partnership and to help promote mutual understanding between their peoples.
"China considers Spain an important partner in the EU. The upcoming Year of Spain and Chinese Art Festival will enhance trade and economic cooperation and strengthen consultations and coordination between the two countries," said State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan.
(China Daily April 7, 2007)