Now we continue our series Ambassador Talks. CGTN’s Wu Guoxiu spoke to Portuguese Ambassador to China José Augusto Duarte. He talked about the countries’ partnership under the Belt and Road Initiative and how Portugal plays into China-EU relations.
The Port of Sines is Portugal’s busiest commercial port. It has hoped to play a key role in promoting connectivity between Europe and Asia, since Portugal joined the Belt and Road Initiative in 2018.
Reports say both Chinese and American investors have placed bids on a new container terminal for the port.
JOSE AUGUSTO DUARTE Portuguese Ambassador to China “So far this bid is not over yet. There is a movement, an association of CCECC, this big construction company of China and one of our biggest construction companies, that they can be both interested in Sines and others, namely in Latin America, where this Portuguese company is already very present. It’s good, because they can face together and stronger in some interests and challenges, and they can bid for some offers all over the world.”
WU GUOXIU Beijing “I also heard there are some competition on this construction bid from the U.S. side. Even the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal Gorge Glass has described Portugal as a ‘battlefield’ between Washington and Beijing. What is the Portuguese government’s attitude towards this?”
JOSE AUGUSTO DUARTE Portuguese Ambassador to China “I don’t think we’re a battlefield for anything. We do whatever we want, we’re not manipulated by China or the United States, we have our own opinions, we have our own choices. I know Ambassador Glass personally, I think maybe he’s not exactly that about what he meant to say. But we don’t feel we’re a battlefield for anything, certainly not.”
WU GUOXIU Beijing “Reports also suggest the U.S. has repeatedly tried to pressure Portugal to ban the use of 5G technology developed by Huawei. What do you think of this? “
JOSE AUGUSTO DUARTE Portuguese Ambassador to China “The American authorities have been quite vocal on the opinions regarding Chinese technology, but we’ve also been quite vocal, our Prime Minister has been very vocal, being very clear on that as well. We have to take the measures of protecting our national interests but without protectionism. And sometimes we can disagree and be tremendously good friends as well. Portugal is an ally of the United States, we’re a NATO member, we’re very proud to be an ally of the United States, as a transatlantic member. But we don’t have to agree all the time, in some elements we can have different opinions, though we still agree on the most important elements that link between the US and Portugal.”
WU GUOXIU Beijing “Portugal will be the rotating president of the European Union for the next half year. How will Portugal help to boost the relation between China and Europe?”
JOSE AUGUSTO DUARTE Portuguese Ambassador to China “All aspects of the relationship between China and European Union are the key elements for us in the next semester for these priorities. What we will try to see is, we try to give and to bring to the European Union the approach that the Portuguese always at for more than 500 years now with the Chinese. We never had a single military conflict in our lives, never. And we had the presence of Macao, and Macao was always a bridge, it was always a result of dialogue, never ever conflict. I think with China everything is possible, but we have dialogue, we have to speak. We can respect our differences, but still, agree on universal values. And President Xi Jinping has made several statements regarding climate change. The answer that China together with Europe and the rest give to these challenges will be for the sake of humanity.”
Duarte has been in China for three years. He says the connections between the Chinese and Portuguese people are of quality. He recalls some moments of cooperation during the pandemic.
JOSE AUGUSTO DUARTE Portuguese Ambassador to China “The first element it was when Covid-19 was just here in Wuhan, we didn’t have it yet in Europe. We saw some demonstrations in Portugal against discrimination and stigmatization of the virus. There was a demonstration in Lisbon, with nice images of Portuguese coming citizens dealing together, and embracing Chinese immigrants living in Portugal and visitors, which was quite impressive because it was a spontaneous thing. The second element that impressed me most, was during the pandemic when we already being affected, the spontaneity we received from all corners of China with solidarity, and offers that were made from big enterprises to small enterprises, and people that were living there and I never heard before. It’s emotional element that say a lot about qualities and the links that link Portugal and China.”
Duarte is a lover of the arts. He’s held a number of events in this embassy hall, bringing together Chinese and Portuguese artists.
JOSE AUGUSTO DUARTE Portuguese Ambassador to China “I want to be not nostalgic of the past, I want to be also devoted to the creativity into the future. Very much like the Chinese, something I learned from the Chinese. The Chinese have a long history, but they are always oriented towards the future, building something with a lot of devotion, always showing these strong instincts of survival that the Chinese society has, which I admire. “
He said the two countries already have a strong political understanding and now he wants a similar level in the spheres of culture and economy. Wu Guoxiu, CGTN.