China today condemned the pressure exerted by the United States for Portugal to ban the Chinese telecommunications group Huawei from 5G network infrastructure, arguing that no country with an “independent spirit” will yield to Washington.
“Coercing other countries to obey their will is not only a flagrant act of harassment, but also an evident rejection of the market economy principles defended by the United States,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China told Lusa.
“No nation with an independent spirit will join this campaign” from Washington, the Ministry added in a statement.
During a visit to Lisbon last week, US Under Secretary of State Keith Krach stressed the importance of excluding Huawei from the fifth generation (5G) networks, the Internet of the future.
Krach’s visit came just a few days after, in an interview with Expresso, the American ambassador in Lisbon, George Glass, considered that the Portuguese “have to make a choice now” between “working with security partners, allies , or work with the economic partners, the Chinese ”.
Glass admitted that “Portugal inevitably ends up being part of the battlefield in Europe between the United States and China” and claimed that the Asian country has “long-term plans to accumulate evil influence through the economy, politics or other means”.
The diplomat’s words were criticized by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, and by the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who recalled that “in Portugal, the representatives chosen by the Portuguese are the ones who decide on their destinations”.
In the same note, sent to Lusa, China accused the United States of “breaking the rules of international trade” and “damaging the interests of consumers and businesses”.
“We believe that all countries will maintain a fair and objective position and make independent choices, according to their interests, interests in common with other countries and the trend of the development of humanity”, reads the statement.
The Chinese Government also recalled that Portugal and China maintain a global strategic partner.
The Global Strategic Partnership between Portugal and China was signed in October 2010, during the state visit to Lisbon of the then Chinese President, Hu Jintao, which was followed by important Chinese investments in the Portuguese economy.
The relationship between China and the United States has deteriorated rapidly over the past two years, with several simultaneous disputes between the two largest economies in the world. In Beijing and Washington, references to a new Cold War are now common.
In addition to the boycott of Huawei, Donald Trump’s administration placed another 70 Chinese companies on the Commerce Department’s List of Entities, limiting their access to American technology.
In the South China Sea, a vital navigation strip in the Asia-Pacific region, US and Chinese warships are now constantly fighting for positions, while Washington has begun to make high-level visits to Taiwan, an affront to Beijing, which it considers the island leaves its territory.
A prolonged trade war also exists between the two countries, despite a Phase 1 agreement, which has seen no new developments since the end of last year.
The two sides maintain punitive customs duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other’s exports.