China Portugal Relations: Xi Lauds Stronger Partnership With Iberian Peninsula

Energias de Portugal (EDP)
President Xi Jinping underscored Portugal’s significant involvement in the advancement of the Belt and Road initiative. (Photo: REUTERS/Rafael Marchante)

Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted his country's desire to intensify its partnership with Portugal, particularly because the country has a strategic location along the Iberian Peninsula, bordering Spain.

Ahead of his two-day visit of Portugal, the president highlighted how the two countries would work together to advance the modern-day silk road initiative, Reuters reported citing an article published in Portuguese daily Diario de Noticias.

The Belt and Road Initiative is China's project involving big infrastructure development and investments in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Xi said Portugal is a strategic point of contact between the maritime and land Silk Road under the initiative. Specifically, Portugal's southern port of Sines, located on south-western part of Europe, would definitely be an important link under the scheme.

Enhanced partnerships between China and Portugal could open more joint investments into the automobile sector of each country, as well as in the areas of renewable energy, financial sector, and construction of more ports.

In the same article, the Chinese president also highlighted how China and Portugal agreed to develop "blue economy" where they would merge some of the two countries' research and investment programs. Indeed, the countries announced in October a joint partnership for a project which involved microsatellites that will be used to collects data used in agriculture, fishery, and oceanography.

Separately, Reuters noted that Chinese accounted for the majority of the foreigners who applied for Portugal's "golden visas." Under the scheme, foreigners could acquire residency provided they bought properties worth 500,000 euros and up.

Chinese companies have also been the largest buyers of various Portuguese assets between 2011 and 2014.

Last week, China's Ministry of Commerce separately underscored the deeper economic cooperation and consistent growth in trade and investment between China and Portugal during the most recent years. For one, the first 10 months of 2018 saw bilateral trade between the two countries increased by 8 percent to $5 billion. Imports from Portugal to China also climbed 12.5 percent to $1.91 billion.

In October, Portugal had also invested $210 million in 255 projects in China. Chinese companies, on the other hand, invested nearly $9 billion in Portugal. Bilateral investments ranged from energy, telecommunication, and finance, according to MOC spokesperson Gao Feng.

In May, China Three Gorges additionally bid for the shares it still has no stakes of Portugal's largest electricity company, the EDP-Energias de Portugal. EDP is also one of largest developers of renewable energy across Europe. Three Gorges' additional bid in EDP marked its most significant engagement in hydroelectric and wind projects in the region.

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