Speech by Ambassador Zhao Bentang, on the 45th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Portugal



Ambassador Zhao Bentang's Speech at the Port of Honor of “Commemoration of the 45th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and Portugal” at the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic (January 11, Assembly of the Republic).


Your Excellency Dr. Deputy Catarina Rocha Ferreira, Ladies, gentlemen, friends, Good afternoon!


I am very honored to participate in the Port of Honor Commemorating the 45th anniversary of the establishment of Portugal-China diplomatic relations here at the Assembly of the Republic building. First, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in Portugal, I would like to extend a warm congratulations on holding the event! I would also like to express my respect to the esteemed friends from all sectors who very much care for and support the development of Sino-Portuguese relations!


The friendship between China and Portugal is very old, with a history of more than 500 years. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1979. Since then, China and Portugal have always upheld the spirit of mutual understanding, mutual respect, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation, jointly promoting the stable and healthy development of bilateral relations. Macau's successful return was a good example that China and Portugal set to the world. We show that issues bequeathed by history can be resolved through friendly consultations between countries. In 2005, China and Portugal established a Global Strategic Partnership and bilateral relations entered a trajectory of rapid development. In 2018, President Xi Jinping made a historic state visit to Portugal. The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the joint construction of "One Belt, One Road"; and cooperation agreements in various domains, such as economy and trade, investment, energy, science, technology and culture. The following year, Mr. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa went to China to participate in the second International Cooperation Summit Forum "One Belt, One Road"; and made a state visit to China. The exchange of visits between the two heads of state in less than half a year fully reflects the high level of Sino-Portuguese relations.

I have very good news I would like to share: The high-level exchanges have been frequent between the two sides and the mutual political trust has been continuously strengthened. In the first half of last year, Chinese Vice President Dr. Han Zheng, and the Macao SAR Chief Executive, Dr. Ho Iat Seng, successfully visited Portugal, further deepening practical cooperation between the two countries in various fields and highlighting Macau's role as a platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. Last year, more than 20 Chinese delegations of vice-ministerial level and above visited Portugal. Friendly exchanges between political parties, local governments and exchanges in the fields of economy, commerce, education and culture continue to deepen. Dr. Elvira Fortunato, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal, Dr. Deputy Duarte Pacheco, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the honorable deputies of the Parliamentary Group of Portugal-China Friendship made successful visits to China, the which effectively deepened the Portuguese understanding of China. Our economic and trade exchanges are constantly deepening and mutually beneficial cooperation is expanding. According to Chinese statistics, the volume of bilateral trade was only 200 thousand dollars in 1979. In 2022, this value exceeded 9 billion dollars. The daily trade volume is now almost a hundred times that of the entire year in 1979, which reflects the wonderful changes and great potentials in Sino-Portuguese relations. The most recent data shows that from January to September 2023, total merchandise trade between China and Portugal reached 6.614 billion dollars, and China continues to remain Portugal's largest trading partner in Asia. The stock of Chinese investment in Portugal reaches 3.473 billion euros, and Portuguese investment in China is also growing steadily. China's new development concept is coupled, incorporated into Portugal's economic and energy transformation strategy, cooperation in clean energy, green vehicles and other fields have grown rapidly. China-Portugal cooperation has exceeded the bilateral scope and increasingly expanded into tripartite or even multi-party cooperation in Portuguese-speaking countries and EU countries.


Interpersonal exchanges intensify, knowledge and mutual appreciation continue to deepen. In 1979, bilateral personal exchanges were few, but these days hundreds of people travel between the two countries every day. Now we maintain frequent exchanges in the areas of education, languages, humanities and others. More than 40 Chinese universities offer Portuguese language courses, in Portugal there are 5 Confucius Institutes, and many public and private schools offer Chinese courses. The Luban Workshop co-founded between the universities of the two countries also became an example of international cooperation in the field of education. These results of cooperation directly benefit the people of both countries, also promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding.


History is a mirror that reflects the past and shows the future. Looking back over the last 45 years, in the face of international disturbances,
China and Portugal have always adhered to multilateralism, we have many complementarities, we seek common development and prosperity. Standing at a new historical starting point, China is willing to work with Portugal to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and jointly promote Sino-Portuguese relations to progress even further and move towards a better and bright tomorrow!


Thank you very much!