The invasion of the Portuguese delegation on China

 The delegation had President Cavaco Silva as head of delegation, but he wasn't alone during the seven days that he was in China between 12 and 18 of May. The 35th anniversary of the establishment of relations between Portugal and China was the reason for this visit, after almost ten years from the last visit of the former President Jorge Sampaio in 2005, with the biggest and most complete Portuguese delegation that has ever visited another country.

The Portuguese President Cavaco Silva met with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Beijing, where both saw the signing of various agreements. The Chinese President said in the joint conference that Cavaco Silva is "a old friend of the Chinese people", was during the government of Cavaco Silva that occurred the transition of Macau from Portugal to China (1999), now the city have the responsibility of the relations between the People's Republic of China and the countries who spoke Portuguese. The last Portuguese governor of Macau (general Vasco Rocha Vieira) also travelled to China in this delegation. The President Xi Jinping want to work in collaboration with Portugal to develop relations between China with Africa and Latin America.

The delegation had not only political character with four ministers (Minister of Foreign Affairs Rui Machete; Minister of Economy Pires de Lima; Minister of Education and Science Nuno Crato and the Vice-Minister Paulo Portas) and also deputies from political parties represented in the Portuguese Parliament (except the Bloco de Esquerda that normally don't travel with these delegations with the President of the Portuguese Republic), but economic, academic and cultural character, too.

More than 100 companies from different areas like banking, technology, tourism, wine, food processing, cork, pharmaceutics, mold industry and law firms, travelled with the President Cavaco Silva. These companies tried to sell their products, others wanted to do some agreements with Chinese companies and others had already relations with China as is the case of the EDP, the Portuguese electric company, that the current biggest shareholder is the China Three Gorges, after the Portuguese government approved the privatisation of the company due to imposition of the troika. The privatisation during the financial assistance program was seen by some Portuguese as a bad business to the country, because Portugal is losing control in some key companies of the country.

The Chinese investors have remained interested in the Portuguese privatisations, now they have interest in the transports of the Portuguese capital Lisbon (Carris/Metro) and in the second important city in Portugal, who gave the name to the country, Porto (STCP). In other words, Portuguese investors have their interests in exporting their products to China as automobiles, minerals, marbles, paper pulp, as well as footwear, clothing and civil construction. But both, Portuguese and Chinese, agreed in one thing Lisbon and Beijing need a direct flight connection, this way they want to increase tourism between the two friendly countries.

According to INE (Instituto Nacional de Estatística - National Institute of Statistics of Portugal) the investments that China has been conducting in Portugal increased by 8930.1% between 2009 and 2013, but on the other hand the investment of Portugal in China in the same period increased only 15.6%. Also, according to the database from INE we can see that Portugal imports more goods from China than vice versa, this creates a debit balance to Portugal which is not good for any European country that has undergone one of the most difficult crisis in the last few years and wants now to have a balanced trade balance. In this area Portugal started to do some improvements, the Portuguese Minister of Economy Pires de Lima said during the visit to China that in the two first months of 2014 Portugal increased the exportations to China in 45%, but Portugal needs to walk a long way to have a balanced trade balance with China.

Portugal finished his financial assistance program last Saturday, 17 of May, during this visit to China. During the last months the Portuguese government have been preparing this exit, the government wants to impulse again the Portuguese economy. The current centre-right Portuguese government needs a growing economy to put Portugal again in the social and economic levels before the crisis.

One of the ways that can help is by having a balanced trade balance, that is why this visit to China by the Portuguese President and his delegation was considered so important for Portugal. The Portuguese President had many meetings with Chinese entrepreneurs when they signed some agreements, the President was also in two economic seminars.

In the academic level eight Portuguese universities signed six agreements with Chinese universities and the Chinese language will be taught in Portuguese high schools optionally. The Portuguese President inaugurated in Shanghai the first Center for Studies of Portugal in that city. Days after his wife, Maria Cavaco Silva, in Beijing, gave a lesson about Portuguese poetry to Chinese students that are studying Portuguese in the University of Foreign Studies. The number of Portuguese language students is increasing and the knowledge of Portuguese can ensure a good work in China, this show that Portuguese language is important to Chinese people, but also Mandarin is important to Portugal.

tia Guerreiro was the responsible to give some soundtrack during this eight days in China, she is one of the famous singers of the traditional song of Portugal "o Fado", which was inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2011.

The Portuguese invited the Chinese President to repay the visit to Portugal, so it is expect that one Chinese delegation will visit Portugal in the coming years, in that time China will “invade” Portugal. The influence of China in Portugal will continue to grow by the privatizations, but Portugal can influence also China with their good relations since centuries ago, and with the help of his old colony Macau, that can be the bride between the two countries.

This delegation had not only the goal “to sell” Portugal to the Chinese, or vice versa, but there is no doubt that in this visit or in others to a different countries, that Portugal has did during his financial assistance program, the economic matters were always kept as priority, but the cultural matters were always present, the power of the Portuguese language is growing quickly.

The financial assistance program finished during the visit and Portugal regained his sovereignty, but Portugal still economically weak, the economy started to grow but it is necessary delegations like this one to other countries, Portugal needs to balance their debts and counterpoise their exports with their imports. It is high time to understand if Portugal will continue to seek the consolidation of the Portuguese economy or it will start a new crisis because the main parties can not agree for a long term.

If Portugal successfully overcomes this crisis, it can regain its reputation in the world. Portugal can this way practice their old peaceful influence in the global world, like in the discovers, for this a help of the old Portuguese colonies, like Macau can help Portugal in this “economic invasion”. But the growing power of the Portuguese language will also an important help.

Photo credits: Kim Kyung-Hoon/AFP
Edited by: Réka Blazsek