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Spain to shorten visa approval

By Li Xiaokun and Mo Jingxi | China Daily | Updated: 2014-09-26 08:07

Nations sign 14 deals as premier calls for expanded cooperation

Chinese audiences drawn to Spanish scenery because of a hot TV show this year will soon benefit by being able to get tourist visas within 48 hours.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy promised to shorten the visa process as he met Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Thursday.

Rajoy's China trip focuses on economic issues, with the leaders witnessing the signing of 14 deals and documents worth more than $4 billion.

The deals range from clean energy and seawater desalination to financing and film production.

"Spain is a country with a great impact in Europe. We'd like to consolidate and expand China's relations with the European Union through developing our relations with Spain," Li said.

He said the countries should expand their trade and seek cooperation in areas such as biomedicine and space technology.

Li called for both countries to do a good job in running cultural institutions such as the Instituto Cervantes and the Confucius Institute, and expanding the scale of student exchanges.

Seven Chinese celebrities traveled to six Spanish cities in the popular television show Divas Hit the Road this year, which gave a strong boost to Spanish tourism.

The stars received a Spanish lesson in Beijing's Instituto Cervantes in the first episode.

According to Spanish media, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Spain is growing by up to 25 percent annually. Nearly 300,000 Chinese citizens are expected to travel to Spain this year, while the figure is set to hit 1 million in 2020.

On Thursday, Rajoy told Li that Spain's economy had the highest growth rate in the eurozone in the second quarter and he considers the current period "a very good chance for recovery".

He assured Li that Spain will play an active role in developing China-Europe relations.

"Noticing the good momentum of cooperation between China and European countries such as the UK and France, Spain also wants to seize the opportunity," said Zhao Junjie, a researcher of European studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China is Spain's largest trade partner outside the European Union.

Cui Hongjian, director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said 48-hour visa approval is a necessity to adapt to the growing trade and investment exchanges between the countries.

"It also helps to attract more Chinese to travel and spend money in Spain, thus giving a lasting and strong economic stimulus to the recovering Spanish economy," he added.

Rajoy arrived in Shanghai on Wednesday for a four-day official visit.

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 Spain to shorten visa approval

Premier Li Keqiang and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy attend a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People on Thursday. Chinese tourists will be able to get Spanish visas within 48 hours, Rajoy said.    Wu Zhiyi / China Daily



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