Portugal to play strategic role in ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’: President

Portugal’s President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said his country aims to become a “strategic point” on the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” outlined by China, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.

Mr de Sousa made his remarks in an interview with the Chinese state-run newspaper People’s Daily.

“Portugal is willing to take jointly with China all the necessary steps in order to become a strategic point of the [21st Century] ‘Maritime Silk Road’,” the Portuguese President was quoted as saying.

The concept is part of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative proposed in 2013 by China’s President Xi Jinping. It covers routes that have historically linked China and its trading partners in the rest of the world. It aims to connect better the economies along the routes, and enhance trade across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa thanks to infrastructure development.

Mr de Sousa stressed the “privileged location” of the Portuguese port of Sines as a “gateway” to Europe. “This port is in a stage of attracting investment, and I believe it could offer eventually various benefits to Chinese partners,” said the Portuguese Head of State.

Last month during a visit to Portugal, a foreign affairs adviser to the Chinese Government, Lv Fengding, had said Sines could be included in the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. He considered the port “important for connecting China to Europe and Africa,” Lusa reported in May.