The head of the Portuguese diplomacy rejected U.S. meddling in his country´s relations with China, after the american ambassador to Lisbon warned that partnering with Chinese tech company Huawei on 5G could have “consequences” for Portugal´s Defense policy.
An interview by U.S. ambassador George Glass to the Portuguese weekly Expresso on Saturday, in which he defended that Portugal has to pick between the “friends and allies” U.S. and the “economic partner” China, ellicited a response from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, on the same day.
“The Portuguese Government makes note of the statements […]. But the fundamental point is this: in Portugal, the decision-makers are the Portuguese authorities, who make the decisions that benefit Portugal, within the framework of the Constitution and Portuguese law and the powers that the law gives (…) relevant authorities”, Santos Silva said, quoted by Lusa news agency.
“The decisions taken in Portugal are made in accordance with democratic and humanistic values, Portuguese values, in accordance with Portugal’s national interests, in accordance with the concertation process at European Union (EU) level, when this process is relevant and with the alliance system in which Portugal is integrated, which is well known and is very stabilized”, he added.
Santos Silva argued that he did not see the U.S. diplomat´s remarks as an interference and recalled the good relations between the two countries.
“The deep friendship that links the two countries, the way we have developed very fruitful relationships over the years, the way we collaborate closely, whether at the bilateral level or in multilateral organizations, all of this justifies me not to comment on the opportunity and the form of the ambassador’s interview”, he replied.
“We decide based on our own options. We are the ones who choose and we have chosen for a long time. We are part of the EU, NATO, the West, we have a privileged relationship with Africa, with Latin America, with different regions in Asia and all of this is known to our allies. And they know that we are allies at all times, not on occasion. We are reliable and credible allies”, he argued.
“All North American companies are welcome to Portugal, they know that. We want more companies from the United States in Portugal, we want more European companies. We are in favor of foreign investment that complies with European and Portuguese law and that contributes to the Portuguese economy ”, he added.
On issues related to the possibility that Huawei 5G networks could affect national security and defense, Santos Silva stressed that there are evaluation criteria.
“We know very clearly that, in certain aspects that have to do with national security issues or with defense systems in which Portugal is integrated, the evaluation criteria also incorporate these criteria”, he concluded.
U.S. diplomat George Glass said in his interview that Portugal must choose between the “ally” United States and the “trading partner” China and stressed there may be security and defense consequences for the European country if it chooses to work with Beijing.
Glass says the US preferred that Portugal did not have any Huawei 5G equipment, underlining that if the that happens, the relationship in Defense between Portugal and the United States will change.
The American Ambassador says that the consequences of Portugal choosing to work with China will not be political, at least not immediately, but may have to do with NATO’s activity or the exchange of classified information.
George Glass also threatens to end the distribution of natural gas through the port of Sines, if the construction of the new terminal is given to China.
The U.S. has also called on Brazil to ban China from its 5G networks, elliciting a response from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.