Chinese President Xi Jinping was greeted with full military honors in Lisbon. Portugal was the last stop on a four-nation diplomatic tour.
The country was looking for more trade and investment after a financial crisis seven years ago. CGTN’s Al Goodman reported on how the Belt and Road initiative will be a big part of the state visit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and the first lady, Peng Liyuan, eased into their last stop of a four-country tour. Arriving in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, from Panama, there were greetings at the airport and then off to a downtown hotel for some personal time. Security was tight with a section of the city under heavy guard. The local Chinese community turned out to welcome them.
The official welcome was later in the day. President Xi reviewed an honor guard with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the 16th century Jeronimos Monastery on the outskirts of town. Xi also laid a wreath at the tomb of famed poet Luis de Camoes.
The two presidents met soon after, embracing a rich history between the two countries. They were about to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations and nearly two decades since Portugal handed over Macao to China.
“Portugal has a strategic maritime position for the Belt and Road Initiative, and there’s an opportunity to have common positions for growth together in several areas and also with third countries,” said the Chinese leader.
The first day for President Xi in Portugal had a lot of pomp and ceremony in locations that are national symbols for the Portuguese people. But the real business of the trip was scheduled for Wednesday. He will meet Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa for talks. Numerous bilateral and business accords are expected to be signed.
Analysts said that Portugal’s deepwater port at Sines will likely come up in the discussions. It’s a huge harbor and there are plans for even more container capacity. It’s a potential Belt and Road location for China.
“As we see it, and most European countries see it in that way too, is a Chinese program. So we are ready to cooperate with Belt and Road initiative, but we look at it as a Chinese program,” explained Carlos Gaspar from the Portuguese Institute of International Relations.
The first day ended with a gala dinner in honor of President Xi and the first lady, breaking bread together and trying to push the bilateral relations forward.