In a statement sent to Lusa News Agency a few days before President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was due to start his state visit to China, the Chinese government praised Lisbon’s “active adhesion and attention” to its plan.
A network of railways and highways will connect the western region of China to Europe and the Indian Ocean, crossing Russia and Central Asia, and there will be a range of ports in Africa and the Mediterranean waters that will strengthen the maritime links of the prosperous Chinese coastal cities.
In the communiqué, Beijing stressed Portugal’s “very important” position in the extreme west of Eurasia, hinting at coordination with Lisbon which wants to include an Atlantic route in the Chinese programme, allowing the port of Sines to connect the Far East routes to the Atlantic Ocean and thus benefit from the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Recalling the visit of China’s President Xi Jinping to Lisbon last December, this “raised the relations to a new level”, and the Chinese authorities consider that Portugal “is a positive example” for cooperation between China and Europe.
“Portugal is one of the first western European countries to sign a cooperation document under the scope of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative”, it said.
Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said he was pleased with the Portuguese participation in the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative as this could take advantage of Portugal’s “strategic position in Europe, in western Europe and close to other continents”.
Meanwhile, analysts that Lusa spoke to have agreed that the duration of the president’s 24-hour trip to Macau compared to his six-day trip to China, shows the priority domestic diplomacy gives to Beijing.
China is too big and wealthy to insist on Macau as the gateway to the country, an analyst further told Lusa.
“There is a great expectation, (…) but the stay is very short…”, the chair of the Regional Council of Portuguese Communities of Asia and Oceania, Rita Santos, said.