Executive Intelligence Review


Xi Jinping’s Ongoing Visit to Portugal Infuriates Diehard Atlanticists

Dec. 4, 2018 (EIRNS)—Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan to Lisbon this afternoon, with great honors in front of the beautiful St. Jeronimo Monastery. After President Xi there laid a floral wreath upon the tomb of Portugal’s greatest poet, Luís Vaz de Camões, famed as the poet of the nation’s seafaring discoveries, the two Presidents began discussions at the Belem Palace. From the outset both Presidents made clear that Xi’s visit, which continues tomorrow, will include some formalizing of Portugal’s presence in the Belt and Road Initiative. According to initial news reports of their remarks before their meeting, President Xi said that “Portugal is an important hub in the land and maritime silk routes,” and De Sousa spoke of Portugal’s Port of Sines as “the symbol of a partnership which we want to continue to build,” citing Portugal’s strategic position on the Atlantic vis-á-vis the Americas and Africa.

Days before President Xi arrived, Portugal came under threats from the Atlanticists telling Lisbon not to cooperate with China on the Belt and Road Initiative, especially after Spain and China agreed to cooperate with the Belt and Road during President Xi’s visit to that country on Nov. 28.

Philippe Le Corre, a former French Defense Ministry advisor now operating out of Harvard Kennedy School and Carnegie Endowment, churned out articles in English and Portuguese barking orders that Portugal will have to choose between its relations with China and the BRI, and NATO and the EU. In a Nov. 24 article in The Diplomat Le Corre discussed the proposals for incorporating Sines Port into the BRI and growing Chinese investment in Portugal, to then ask: “Does this mean that Portugal is willing to remain an active member of the European Union and NATO while becoming an ‘aircraft carrier for Chinese investments in Europe’?”

Today, Associated Press (“Portugal Fetes China, Risking Tension with Western Allies”) and France’s AFP (“Xi Heads to Portugal as China’s Influence Worries EU Partners”) regurgitated the same line. Both wires specified “concerns” over plans for the China Three Gorges Corp. to increase its current 24% control over Portugal’s public electricity company, EDP, and national electrical grid operator, REN, to a controlling share. The European Union and the U.S. are trying to scuttle the deal on grounds that E`DP operates in these countries, and therefore their regulations apply. U.S. Ambassador to Lisbon George Glass has reportedly been vigorously protesting, on grounds that EDP is the third-largest provider of clean energy in the U.S.