Portugal reinforces firm “no to China” over 5G

Supplier restrictions ‘important for national security’, says minister

Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs has reinforced Portugal’s firm “no to China” over a rethink in the policy for 5G.

In recent weeks we have heard that China ‘could threaten’ Portugal with retaliatory measures if the country doesn’t play ball.

We have also seen China warn that “breaking ties” only “harms the most vulnerable”.

For a country that has so many businesses tied up with Chinese stake-holders, this could be a hugely difficult situation. But, no, according to João Gomes Cravinho, who told journalists clamouring for information in the UK today, this matter is “non-negotiable”.

It is “an exclusively technical decision; a decision based on technical criteria using elements coming from the European Union”, he stressed.

The reason for the effective ban on Chinese suppliers (and any others, in fact, whose countries are not aligned with NATO/ OECD/ Europe or the United States) is the safeguarding of national security.

“We will always take the decisions that are important for safeguarding our security and our sovereignty, and in that matter, there is no negotiation possible,” he said.

The European Commission has also said this week that the measures taken by 10 European Union (EU) member States to restrict / ban high-risk suppliers of fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks – such as Huawei and ZTE and others – were “justified and appropriate”.

The Commission has equally praised the findings of Portuguese authorities who have showed they see every reason to fall in line with Europe’s lead.  “Threats have no place in Europe“, said a source for the Commission.

Despite the risk of tension now in relations with China, Gomes Cravinho stressed that Portugal continues to look to the Asian giant as “a partner in many, many matters“.

We have a strong and old relationship with China, which over the years, over the centuries, has gone through several different moments, some easier, some more difficult”..

Indeed, the minister said he plans to visit China in late 2023 or early 2024

He also said there is an ongoing dialogue on issues included in the agreement between Portugal and China on Macau’s return to Chinese sovereignty.

“We are satisfied with that dialogue, which does not mean that we are satisfied with all the points,” he stressed.

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