China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it hopes that Lisbon will make “make rational political choices” over the construction of its 5G network and do so “autonomously” – a veiled reference to the sanctioning of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei by the US, UK and, as looks increasingly likely, the EU.
In a statement to the news agency Lusa, the ministry appealed to the Portuguese government not to go about “building walls and barriers” and “breaking ties” but instead create “an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment”.
It added that “cooperation with mutual benefits” was the right path for the two countries to follow.
Last month, Portugal banned telecommunications operators from using equipment supplied by companies outside the EU, or from states that don’t belong to NATO or the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, deeming such countries to be a “high risk” to the security of national networks.
Washington has been pressuring its allies to restrict the use of Chinese technology as part of a broader American effort to contain Beijing. Portugal’s decision has nonetheless come as a surprise to China, the Portuguese daily Jornal de Negócios reports.
China is one of the biggest investors in Portugal, ploughing 11.22 billion euros into the country last year alone.