Forty years on, relations between the two countries stand at a new historical starting point
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Portugal. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, China and Portugal have understood, respected and trusted each other for mutual development.
Despite different historical, cultural and social backgrounds, the two countries have maintained steady and healthy relations and developed into great models of peaceful coexistence and mutual benefit.
At present, Sino-Portuguese ties are the best ever in history. Portugal is a good friend of China in the European Union, an important participant in the construction of the Belt and Road, a hot spot for Chinese enterprises to “go global”, an effective platform for expanding trilateral cooperation, and an important partner of China’s multilateral diplomacy.
Political mutual trust between the two nations continues to deepen thanks to decades of friendly exchanges. In 1999, China and Portugal properly resolved the Macao issue and established a model for resolving historical issues through friendly consultations.
In 2005, China and Portugal established a comprehensive strategic partnership. Since then, friendly cooperation between the two countries has embarked on rapid development.
In December 2018, President Xi Jinping paid a historic state visit to Portugal. The visit was a complete success, and led to the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Portugal entering a new stage of development.
In April this year, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa attended the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and paid a state visit to China.
The exchange of visits between the two heads of state in less than half a year reflects the high level of the China-Portugal comprehensive strategic partnership.
Since the beginning of this year, the two governments, parliaments, political parties, localities and other fields and levels have continued to maintain close ties, and the bilateral cooperation mechanism has increasingly improved.
Decades of mutual benefit and win-win pragmatic cooperation has yielded fruitful results. China is now Portugal’s largest trading partner in Asia.
Portugal is China’s fifth-largest destination for investment in Europe. According to incomplete statistics, China’s investment in Portugal exceeds 9 billion euros (US$9.98 billion), covering energy, electricity, finance, insurance, healthcare and other fields, and has achieved significant economic and social benefits. At the same time, Portugal’s investment in China is also growing steadily.
Portugal is the first Atlantic European country to sign a Belt and Road Initiative cooperation agreement with China, the first EU country to formally establish a “blue partnership” with China, the first eurozone country to issue renminbi bonds, and the first continental European country to build a “Luban Workshop” with China. (Lu Ban was a master in construction and sculpture in Chinese history.)
The pragmatic cooperation between the two sides in the fields of economy, trade, investment, energy, science and technology, maritime and finance has been fully carried out, bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples.
The hearts and minds of the people have been connected for decades, and cultural exchanges between China and Portugal have been on the rise. At present, more than 30 colleges and universities in China have established a Portuguese language major, and more than 20 universities in Portugal have opened Chinese courses. This year, Portugal added a Confucius Institute and a Confucius Classroom to the existing four Confucius Institutes and one Confucius Classroom.
China’s “Portuguese language fever” and Portugal’s “Chinese fever” are heating up simultaneously. More and more people choose to go to the other country for sightseeing. And the exchange of personnel between the two sides has grown from just a few in the early days of diplomatic relations to hundreds of thousands every day now.
Both China and Portugal have hosted “cultural festivals” in the other country. The two sides have frequent exchanges and cooperation on exhibitions, performances, film and television, and media. Mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples has therefore deepened.
At present, China-Portugal relations are standing at a new historical starting point, with great development potential and prospects.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese people are striving to realize the “Two Centenary Goals” and the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the nation. Portuguese people are also working hard to develop their economy and improve people’s livelihoods.
China is willing to work with Portugal to better integrate the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries and their respective development strategies, and promote pragmatic cooperation in various fields within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative to achieve more positive results and better benefit for the two peoples.
We believe that with the joint efforts of China and Portugal, China-Portugal relations will surely be stable and far-reaching, and continue to write another glorious chapter.
The author is the Chinese ambassador to Portugal. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.