News Xina 7

Catalonia has always been open to the rest of the world. The Government of Catalonia has worked to secure Catalonia’s rightful role with international prominence to match its potential by exporting our wealth and our values, which define us as Europeans, as a driving force, as a society that is plural, welcoming and caring. We have also welcomed input from the rest of the world: foreign students, researchers and other citizens of foreign countries, cultural works and creations, and solid, profitable ties of entrepreneurship and business. However, it is particularly in difficult times and recessions that we must strive for a strong foreign presence, strengthening ties to other countries and regions, building opportunities and productive partnerships.

Over the years, our Government has looked to the Asia- Pacific region, aware of its future role. Beyond the Euro- Mediterranean region – an obvious strategic priority – the Asia-Pacific region is Catalonia’s chief sphere of foreign action. We have striven for years to secure a good position and become that region’s gateway to southern Europe for all sorts of purposes: economic, educational and academic, tourism or culture.

The Asia-Pacific is already the world’s most vigorous economic region. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), by the mid-21st century the Asian region will make up half the global economy and total Asian GDP will grow from US$16 trillion in 2010 to US$148 trillion by 2050.

Moreover, China is already the world’s second largest economy after the United States and is also considered the world’s strongest industrial powerhouse, ahead of the United States for the first time. International Monetary Fund projections have China overtaking the United States as the world’s topmost economy just five years from now.

These figures tell us where we stand as Europeans in today’s world and where we need to focus our attention and efforts. The world has become a very different place from the world we grew up in, and China is its new leading actor. Our younger generations will grow up in full awareness of this fact and of the ensuing new ground rules for international relations.

Now, more than ever, the Government of Catalonia intends to address its ties with China on many key dimensions to seize every opportunity it has to offer for our country, our society, our culture. Institutional relations will continue to be strengthened at the highest level – they are crucial in a culture that values relationships and personal contact. All presidents of Catalonia have been aware of this and have made official visits to China, focusing particularly on institutional and economic issues. President Artur Mas also has a trip planned during his present term of office.

The Government of Catalonia supports Catalan businesses in China as well as potential Chinese investments in Catalonia via its ACC1Ó offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, by fostering new opportunities in areas such as innovation, new technologies, infrastructure or renewables, as well as through the services offered by Invest in Catalonia. China has already become the Port of Barcelona’s main trading partner, with major Hutchison investments bolstering our position in shipping. Additionally, the Catalan Tourist Board’s Beijing office is a foothold in a key location for securing this constantly growing outbound tourism market.

Another line of action consists of boosting all resources that can bring Catalan and Chinese culture together – whether this involves Catalan communities living in China, education and mobility for research and higher education, or the role of local institutions such Casa Àsia and Institut Confuci. We have particularly strong ties to China today owing to the size of the Chinese community: with over 50,000 Chinese citizens, it is the largest Asian community in Catalonia, and includes both businesspeople and students who have settled in our towns.

That said, we must keep up our efforts to bring China closer. We must achieve this through trade, but also through social, educational and cultural action, by educating each other about our countries, languages and cultures, which hold the key to our future relations and to the individual futures of many of our young people.

Today, more than ever, we must strive to take a renewed, ambitious, effective, meaningful approach to our foreign relations with China so that we can seize every opportunity to move forward our economies, cultures, education and tourism.

Roger Albinyana
Secretary of Foreign Affairs and European Union
Presidence Department. Generalitat de Catalunya