IL insists on pushing for suspension of extradition agreements with China and Hong Kong
China's President Xi visited Portugal back in 2018 on a 'charm offensive'; the Ritz was 'taken over by the Chinese delegation - and President Marcelo signed a significant number of cooperation agreements involving various sectors. Photo: Mário Cruz/ Lusa

IL insists on pushing for suspension of extradition agreements with China and Hong Kong

Accuses government of “lack of courage” – or worse, being subservient

Portugal’s Iniciativa Liberal party – the country’s 4th political force – is refusing to let go of China’s human rights abuses exposed in Portugal.

It is insisting today that the government ‘mans up’ and suspends extradition agreements that it has with the People’s Republic of China and with Hong Kong.

Says IL’s parliamentary leader Rodrigo Saraiva, Portugal is “the only country in the European Union” that maintains both agreements, at a moment when the Union “is asking member states to toughen relations with China and protect themselves better”.

“If in the framework of human rights it is obvious that it is not possible for a democratic country – a country based on democratic rights and principles – to have extradition agreements with States like the People’s Republic of China, there is also the political framework showing not just today but for some time now it is not possible for a country within the European Union to maintain extradition agreements with China and with Hong Kong”, he stressed.

The “only reason” IL can see for Portugal’s positioning is “lack of courage”, Saraiva added.

Either that, or “once again the PS is dodging the truth; not assuming its reasons. We can disagree with reasons that come to be announced but at least assume them”, he goaded. While the PS fails to explain itself “the only thing that becomes clear is that the Portuguese State is in a position of subservience to the People’s Republic of China” – possibly for economic interests, but if so, again, the executive should explain itself.

IL has been ‘on the warpath’ since the PS’s lacklustre response to allegations that illegal Chinese ‘police squads’ are operating in Portugal, ostensibly to forcibly repatriate citizens who have displeased the regime.

The allegations came in a recent report by human rights NGO Safeguard Defenders, which admitted it was dismayed by the lack of reaction in Portugal.

Add this potential ‘scandal in plain sight’, to the already well-documented abuses against Uyghur Muslims, the Hong Kong national security law and the recent beating of a pro-democracy demonstrator outside the Chinese consulate in Manchester. How is it possible for a country like Portugal not to take a stand?

Rodrigo Saraiva admits this kind of failing does appear to have become ‘business as usual’. If the prime minister gives an answer “on this subject and so many others” it is always little, he told Lusa, promising that “on the rare appearances he deigns to make in parliament, we will always question him even though he does not like it; even though he gets irritated”. IL is not prepared to take a back step when it comes to human right abuses, he reiterated.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com