Augusto Santos Silva.
Tough talking on China. Augusto Santos Silva. Image: José Sena Goulão/ Lusa

China should be less ambiguous on Russia aggression – parliament speaker

Augusto Santos Silva believes China “would profit” if it came off fence

The speaker of the Portuguese parliament, Augusto Santos Silva, has told Lusa news agency that the People’s Republic of China should be “less ambiguous” about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

In another less than habitual foray into international affairs, Mr Santos Silva suggested: “China would profit if it were less ambiguous. China is a state that should understand well that the territorial integrity of a country is an essential criterion for international relations and that no one has the right to change internationally-recognised borders by force and invade territories that are not theirs.

“China says it is working on peace”, he went on. “All those who are working on peace must be heard, but I insist that for peace to be possible in Ukraine it is necessary for Russian aggression to end, and aggression must be condemned.” 

Mr Santos Silva was talking on the sidelines of a conference on Ukraine in Lisbon. It was an unusual turn of phrase (“I insist…”), but a lot of countries belonging to NATO will be considering candidates for the position of NATO secretary general, coming up imminently. In UK, for example, certain quarters are suggesting the post should go to defence secretary Ben Wallace.

To give the speaker’s comments better context, he was talking to Lusa after opening the International Conference entitled “A Year of War in Ukraine“, held at Lusíada University in Lisbon.

He also revealed that the Portuguese parliament will be represented this week in Ukraine by a member of the Portuguese Social Democratic Party (PSD) as part of a European delegation, adding that he himself plans to visit Kyiv.

The speaking referred to “the principles of the United Nations”, to add that Portugal is “absolutely clear” in defending those who are being attacked and condemning those who are attacking (ie much clearer than China is being).

Himself a former foreign affairs minister, Mr Santos Silva stressed that Portugal’s positions since the first hours of the Russian invasion (exactly a year ago tomorrow) “have been coincident with the positions of the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance”.

Referring to the visit to Kyiv yesterday by the United States president Joe Biden, he said: “President Biden said that our goal is not to defeat Russia, as such, our goal is to defeat Russian aggression in Ukraine,” Santos Silva reiterated.

“For the speaker of parliament, a year after Moscow’s latest aggression against Ukraine, the war will only end “the moment Russia abandons” the Ukrainian territories it has occupied”, Lusa continues.

“The decision on peace is in the hands of the aggressor and the aggressor must stop the aggression for peace to be possible,” he said.

Source material: Lusa