China in our hands
There had been no hint of any special visitors, and for good reason becauseTenerife’s guest of honour, albeit for a few fleeting hours, was none other than Chinese president Hu Jintao, complete with a 100-strong delegation.
It made for an astonishing sight at Reina Sofia airport (Tenerife South), with a dozen coaches, an ambulance and two police cars all parked on the runway as the Chinese President alighted from a giant Boeing at around 11.30am.
He was accompanied by his wife and a large delegation, which included the Vice Premier of State Council of the Republic, the President of Banco Popular and about a dozen Asian journalists armed with cameras.
They were greeted at the foot of the plane’s stairs byCanary Islands’ President Paulino Rivero, and Ricardo Melchior, his counterpart at Tenerife Cabildo, together with Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Vice-President of the Spanish Government, and Energy and Tourism minister José Manuel Soria.
More than 100 policemen were employed to cover every 100 metres or so along the TF-1 and on bridges, scouring the stretch to Adeje for anything untoward, while the procession included a grua (pick-up truck) and ambulance – just in case of a breakdown, or any other unscheduled incident.
The visit by the President followed his meeting of the G-20 Summit inMexico, and was seen as essential because Tenerife is viewed as a logistics platform for Asian country businessmen interested in investing inAfrica.
He was driven to Adeje’s Hotel Anthelia, in Calle Londres, for a top-level meeting with Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Vice-President of the Spanish Government and Energy and Tourism minister José Manuel Soria as passers-by stared in amazement at the goings-on.
Even before Hu Jintao stepped into the hotel, a team of explosive experts and officers with sniffer dogs had ensured that the president was safe.
But with, five vans full of National Police, five Guardia Civil vehicles and three from the local police, he was never in danger.
The meeting lasted just 20 minutes, but in that time, said De Santamaria, the President expressed his support for all measures that give greater stability to the Eurozone, including those taken by Spain, and strengthen the sovereign debt of its Member States.
She also said revealed the powerful Chinese leader said he had valued the bilateral meeting held the previous day with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, at the G-20 summit, at which both agreed on the need to boost employment and growth policies at a global level.
The Vice-President said Prime Minister Rajoy had received an invitation from the Chinese President and would visitChinain the first quarter of 2013, on the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations being established between the two countries.
She considered that Rajoy’s trip would open up a “stronger framework” of bilateral collaboration in which exports toChinacould be expected to increase, with new Chinese investments being attracted toSpain.
De Santamaria stressed that the respective Governments had opened up channels of “mutual co-operation” regarding the energy, infrastructure and tourism sectors, with the aim of consolidatingSpainas a key tourist destination for Chinese travellers.
Work, she said, would be done to improve visa procedures and increase flight frequencies between the two countries.
Already, she said, great hopes continue for Chinese investment both on the mainland and here in the Canaries, and on the 24th May, Spanish and Chinese businesses had signed trade and collaboration agreements worth around half-a-billion euros.
From Adeje the cavalcade, by this time accompanied by several limousines carrying high-level government ministers, moved on toTeideNational Park. All access roads were blocked off to ensure a smooth passage, but it didn’t help that a freak fog descended on the road as the Chinese overlord’s armoured car made its way up to Teide, again accompanied by several officers from the Adeje National Police, Guardia Civil and local police.
Thankfully, his official transport, complete with two national flags ofChina, arrived, greeted by bright sunshine.
And once that trip was over, the President et al departed swiftly to the airport for their return journey home toChina.
Job done, and the end to one of the most amazing days ever inTenerife’s history!
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