Luso-Chinese relations rise on political level with annual contacts

Portugal and China formalize a new level of bilateral relations through a memorandum of understanding today, moving from a partnership established in 2005 to a “strategic dialogue” with annual contacts.

The “Memorandum of Understanding on strategic dialogue between Portugal and the People’s Republic of China” will be formalized today in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa will be welcomed by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, confirmed to Lusa, a diplomatic source.

With this memorandum, the two countries agree to hold regular political consultations on bilateral and international policy issues and to increase contacts between government authorities, with mutual visits of foreign ministers once a year, in China and Portugal.

Portugal’s relationship with China shifts from the current “strategic partnership” signed in 2005 to a type of partnership at the same level as those with France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, the same diplomatic source said.

Upon arrival in China on Friday, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa alluded to this new political level in Portuguese-Chinese relations, noting that a “qualitative leap in bilateral terms” was underway, and that Portugal would move to the same “level of world powers or countries of great European affirmation.”

“It is the qualitative leap that is given during this visit, going from a memorandum, which is already, from the point of view of strategic partnership, very important now to the bilateral level for more than that,” he said.

In statements made on the Great Wall, north of Beijing, the head of state added that Portugal thus had with China “a political relationship at the level of countries like France, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.”

When he received Xi Jinping in Lisbon in early December last year, the Portuguese President had spoken of his will to “continue to build” the partnership between Portugal and China “with regular and continuous political dialogue.”

In the current legislature, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang had a short meeting with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva during a stopover at Lajes Base in the Azores in September 2016, and the following month Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa visited China.

In July 2017, Zhang Dejiang, then chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, was in Lisbon where both parliaments signed a memorandum of understanding.

In 2018, there were reciprocal foreign minister visits in May and October by President of the Republic, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, to China in November, and Chinese President Xi Jinping to Portugal in December.

Now, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is repaying this displacement, starting a three-day state visit to the People’s Republic of China, divided between Beijing, Shanghai and the Macau Special Administrative Region after participating in the second “Belt and Road” forum in capital of China.