The main purpose of this paper is to explore the objectives and possible consequences of the Chinese investments in Portugal in the last decade. Are they business as usual in a globalized economy, or something else inside a broad political strategy? Trying to answer this question, the approach will be made both through the lens economic diplomacy and the geopolitical analysis. The research will be developed throughout several points: firstly, the Chinese model of socialist market economy within a global environment configured by liberal ideas; secondly, the main characteristics of China’s economic diplomacy model, one where the economic and the political are closely intertwined; thirdly, a focus on the economic attractiveness that China exerts upon Portugal, having the investment in the Portuguese energy sector as a case in point; and finally, some conclusions about the possible consequences for Portugal economic and strategic dependence on China in a world where the USA–China rivalry is growing.
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See English translation of the 1982 Constitution of China in State Council/The People’s Republic of China, Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (full text after amendment on March 14, 2004), available at http://english.gov.cn/archive/laws_regulations/2014/08/23/content_281474982987458.htm [accessed on 7/5/2019].
See Article 15º: “The State practices socialist market economy. The State strengthens economic legislation, improves macro-regulation and control. The State prohibits in accordance with law any organization or individual from disturbing the socio-economic order”; and Article 16º: “State-owned enterprises have decision-making power with regard to their operation within the limits prescribed by law. State-owned enterprises practice democratic management through congresses of workers and staff and in other ways in accordance with law.”
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“The differences in perceiving the role of economy and diplomacy in these discussions are in line with the two types of economic diplomacy defined by Yi Lu, a professor of China Foreign Affairs University. In his view, the first type is to use economic means to reach specific political objectives or diplomatic strategic intentions; the second is to focus on economic relations in the state’s external relations. […] In other words, economic diplomacy is not only aimed at promoting national economic interests, but also intended for political objectives and diplomatic strategy. In the case of China, its rising economic power helps increase the influence of its economic diplomacy and allows it to take maneuvers against the EU policies which are in conflict with its national interests.” (Men 2013, p. 298).
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Fernandes, J.P.T. Chinese economic diplomacy regarding Portugal: promoting business or concealing geopolitical ambitions?. Int Polit 58, 18–36 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-020-00218-8
- Economic diplomacy
- Foreign direct investment