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Portugal will be on China’s next visa-waiver list, Chinese ambassador says 

Zhao Bentang noted that Portugal’s absence from the program so far was due to practical concerns and did not signify strained ties between the two nations.

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PUBLISHED

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Less than 1 minute Minutes

Beijing is expected to include Portugal in the next phase of its temporary visa-waiver program, according to the Chinese envoy in Lisbon, Zhao Bentang, whose interview with the Lusa news agency was cited in various Portuguese media reports.

“In the next phase, with the expansion, I think that Portugal will be on the visa waiver list,” the diplomat said. 

First introduced in December 2023, the temporary visa waiver scheme initially allowed citizens from five European countries to travel to China for 15 days without a visa. This month, six additional European countries were added to the program, although Portugal remained conspicuously absent despite its longstanding ties with China by way of Macao. 

Zhao said Beijing was taking a gradual approach and that other European nations were included on the list first because they “have a greater amount of personal and business exchanges or have more cooperation projects [with] China.” 

[See more: China’s visa snub is ‘not linked to Portugal’s Huawei ban’]

He stressed that he did not believe Beijing was insinuating anything to Lisbon by excluding Portuguese passport holders from the program to date and said there were “no problems [and] no obstacles” between Portugal and China. 

Portuguese business leaders recently shot down speculation that Portugal’s omission was a retaliatory measure against Lisbon’s de facto banning of Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei from Portugal’s 5G network.

No official details have been announced yet for the further expansion of the countries on the list.