In a statement sent to Macau News Agency, the Observatório da China – Association for Multidisciplinary Investigation of Chinese Studies, a non-profit organization based in Lisbon, expressed that the “threats” issued by the US Ambassador to Portugal concerning the adoption of Huawei technology as “regrettable”.
Recently the US Ambassador in Lisbon, George Glass, in an interview with the weekly Expresso that Portugal must choose between the American “friends and allies” and the “economic partner” China, and threatened with consequences in terms of security and defence if the choice is China on issues such as the future generation of 5G mobile telecommunications.
The issue led the of President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, to comment that decisions in Portugal are taken by elected representatives.
In a statement issued to MNA, Rui Lourido, the President of Observatório da China considered that trying to impose China’s exclusion from the choice of Portugal’s economic partners was an “unacceptable interference”.
“Even more unacceptable even if he is one of our allies, who openly and publicly, make us ultimatums. This diplomat reveals contempt for the History of Portugal’s relationship with China, which has lasted for more than five centuries,” he expressed adding that Portugal is the only western and European country with such a long continuous and peaceful relationship with China.
The recent visit by President Sousa to China, in April 2019, was also said to have led to a new level in bilateral relations between the two countries, with Portugal elevating its diplomatic relations from ‘strategic partnership’ to ‘constant dialogue’, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding at the Grand People’s Palace in Beijing.
“The head of state said that Portugal now had with China ‘a political relationship at the level of countries such as France, the United Kingdom, or the United States of America’. For his part, the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, declared that he intends to ‘further strengthen’ the Luso-Chinese relationship, as well as strengthening that relationship ‘within the framework of China’s cooperation with the European Union and between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries”.
Lourido also expressed that Portuguese authorities have followed a path characterized by a certain neutrality, in order to protect national interests, both public and private.
“Many companies have made large investments in technology of Chinese origin in 4G and are preparing for 5G, with China being the most advanced country in this technology and practicing the most competitive prices. The same is true in many other sectors, with the registration of a greater number of patents, namely in renewable energies and in the fight against climate change,” he added.
While reaffirming Portugal’s alliance with the USA and the European Union, Lourido notes that the threat must be framed within the scope of the trade war that the USA started against China.
“It is an overly aggressive, isolationist and selfish stance, the USA imposed arbitrary measures against free trade and against competitors, whether from China or Europe, namely customs duties and penalties on American and foreign companies that deal with countries or companies that USA considers competitors and ‘evil’,” the OC Presidnet added.
Glass also warned of consequences for Portugal choosing to work with China which he said could influence NATO’s activity or the exchange of classified information, and further threatened to end the distribution of natural gas through Sines if the construction of the new terminal is delivered to China.
“We think that the tender for the lease of the new Sines terminal to be built, should be designed in the most demanding and transparent European molds, which gives guarantees for efficient management. The development of the large ocean terminal (Vasco da Gama) will be strategic for Portugal, and we hope it will be won by the best bid,” he added.
“This terminal will be extremely important for Portugal to conquer a new centrality in international trade, as we have not had for many centuries.”