Part of Washington’s campaign against Beijing is pressuring allies not to do business with China, a strategy that doesn’t seem to be working with many European countries. Portuguese officials just rejected an ultimatum given to them by the US Ambassador George Glass over the country’s dealings with China.
Glass said that Portugal has to choose between its “friends and allies” in the US or its “economic partner” in China, and described Portugal as a “battlefield” for Washington and Beijing.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa sharply responded to Glass in comments to reporters on Monday. “In Portugal it is the representatives chosen by the Portuguese and they alone who decide on their destiny, respecting the constitution and the rights it gives them,” he said.
Portugal’s Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva also responded to Glass. “In Portugal, the decision-makers are the Portuguese authorities, who decide which are Portugal’s interests,” Silva said.
Glass said Portugal could expect consequences related to its defense and security if it continues to do business with China. One company the US is trying to get pushed out of Europe is Huawei, the tech firm that specializes in 5G.
Portugal’s three major cell phone companies have said they will not use Huawei technology for their 5G networks, but the government has not banned the firm from supplying the infrastructure. Lisbon signed an agreement with China in 2018 to join China’s Belt and Road initiative.