Xi Jinping is in Portugal for the last stop on his nine-day, four-country tour.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa made sure that Xi would feel welcome (Xinhua 1):
"The visit of President Xi will reinforce and strengthen this trust, which is not only trust, but trust and friendship.""The outcome of the visit will inevitably be very positive."
Some context: When the Portuguese economy was on the brink of collapse in 2011/12, Chinese companies made BIG investments. Chinese companies now have big stakes in Portugal’s biggest energy company (EDP), power grid (REN), bank (BCP), and insurance company (Fidelidade Cia de Seguros).
And China’s Portuguese footprint is set to get bigger (SCMP):“UnionPay, …China’s dominant bank card clearing service, is expected to sign a pact with [BCP]…to issue bank and credit cards using the Chinese company’s electronic payments clearing system.”
Xi also got another Belt and Road win (Xinhua 2):“The Portuguese president said that Portugal supports the BRI and is willing to become the hub in Europe of the overland and the maritime silk roads.”
Why it matters: Portugal has become an important ally within the European Union pushing back against proposals to more closely scrutinize Chinese investments.
Xinhua: Interview: Portuguese president calls ties with China "exceptional"
Xinhua: China, Portugal agree to seek more cooperation progress
Reuters: China's Xi seeks deeper cooperation with EU, Portugal