Xi’s visit, scheduled from December 4 to 5, marks his first visit to the European country as Chinese head of state.
During the visit, the two sides are expected to publish a joint statement and sign documents to boost cooperation in areas including infrastructure, culture, education, science and technology, water conservancy, quality inspection, energy and finance.
Portugal is the last stop of Xi’s ongoing Europe and Latin America trip from November 27 to December 5, which had taken him to Spain, Argentina, where he attended the G20 summit, and Panama.
China and Portugal forged diplomatic ties in February 1979 and established a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2005. Bilateral trade in 2017 was worth 5.58 billion U.S. dollars.
In a signed article published in the Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias ahead of his visit, Xi called on the two countries to further expand practical cooperation and “substantiate” their comprehensive strategic partnership as they celebrate the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic relations next year.
The two sides should make joint efforts to promote cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, he said, noting that “Portugal lies at an important intersection of the land and maritime silk roads.”
Proposed by Xi in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative comprises of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes.
“China-Portugal relations are now stronger than ever before, and China-Portugal cooperation promises broad prospects,” he wrote.
In a recent interview with Chinese media, President Rebelo de Sousa said Portugal’s relationship with China is “exceptional,” calling the Belt and Road Initiative a long-term plan that holds relevance for his country.
Xi’s visit will “reinforce and strengthen” the trust and friendship between the two countries, Rebelo de Sousa stressed. “That’s why I said relations are excellent, or exceptional, and the outcome of the visit will inevitably be very positive.”