As the tensions between China and the US escalate, Portugal finds itself right in between this clash. While Portugal and the US are connected by an historical alliance, with important implications on the Portuguese national security and defense, China has been working on a strategic partnership with Portugal, in the form of trade and investment, strengthening its presence in the global context.
More recently, this rivalry has materialized in the development of 5G technologies, directly competing with the US and threatening to overtake it. In fact, technology has always played a major role in China’s growth plan, as an international affirmation of its growth and political model.
Portugal is part of the Chinese strategy and now has to make a decision regarding its choice of 5G technology: whereas China has promised benefits in terms of foreign investment and scientific research for those adopting Huawei’s technology, the US ambassador in Portugal has claimed concerns about national security and pointed that there would be consequences for the interactions with China.
As a small country, Portugal is trying to manage the increasing conflict between China and the US, avoiding the political consequences of a final position. For that, it has been sheltered by Brussels’ support to the US, which has allowed it to uphold its ambiguity in the matter. However, Portugal is losing its room for maneuver, and will soon feel the consequences of the dispute. It is imperative that Portugal defines a strategy and determines its priorities, as it will not be able to support both, its ally and its trade partner.
- Vítor Matos (2020, September 26). “Portugal tem de escolher agora entre os Aliados e os Chineses”. Expresso (Semanário #2500). https://leitor.expresso.pt/semanario/semanario2500/html/primeiro-caderno/politica/portugal-tem-de-escolher-agora-entre-os-aliados-e-os-chineses
- Miguel Monardino (2020, October 24). “Portugal. Precisamos de uma nova arquitetura intelectual”. Expresso (Semanário #2504). https://leitor.expresso.pt/semanario/semanario2504/html/revista-e/-e/portugal.-precisamos-de-uma-nova-arquitetura-intelectual