The Belt and Road Initiative now stretches to the Iberian Peninsula, as Portugal has signed up to promote China’s multi-grillion-dollar mega-boondoggle:
Portugal signed two deals last week during a state visit from Xi Jinping that seemed to undermine efforts elsewhere in Europe to counter Beijing’s influence.
The bottom line: Portugal is not alone in playing nice with Beijing, but these instances show that China, with the promise of big investments, can poke holes in European or Transatlantic efforts to confront it.
Detail: With a wary eye on China, a deal was struck in Brussels last week for closer inspections of foreign investments in “strategic technologies and infrastructure such as ports or energy networks,” per Reuters, which noted there was opposition from countries including Greece, Luxembourg, Malta and Portugal.
The deal makes the Port of Sines part of the B&R. Sines, located on the Atlantic coast, handles about half of Portugal’s cargo.
Chinese trade with Portugal is rising and the European country now wants to “attract large-scale industrial investment, notably in the automobile and agro-food sectors”:
Chinese investment accounted for 3.6 per cent of Portugal’s GDP between 2010 and 2016, according to figures from Spain’s ESADE business school.
China now owns a 28 per cent stake in Portuguese energy utility EDP, the country’s largest firm, via China Three Gorges and China’s state-owned international investment company CNIC.
It also has a stake in Portugal’s biggest private bank, BCP, and its leading insurance company, Fidelidade.