Opposition party calls for review of state accords with China

  • Lusa
  • 4 October 2022

"The many agreements that Portugal has concluded with the People's Republic of China should be carefully reviewed," said João Cotrim Figueiredo, the leader of the Liberal Initiative party.

The leader of the opposition Liberal Initiative party has advocated a review of the agreements Portugal has with China, after hearing from the director of Safeguard Defenders, the NGO that produced the report that speaks of alleged informal Chinese “police stations” in the country.

“The many agreements that Portugal has concluded with the People’s Republic of China should be carefully reviewed to see if we are not, with a total lack of reciprocity and a total lack of diplomatic balance, giving powers to the Chinese state, a dictatorial state that is a persecutor of its own citizens, which also becomes a persecutor of citizens of third countries,” said João Cotrim Figueiredo.

The leader of the Liberal Initiative was speaking to journalists in Coimbra, on Monday evening, at a dinner as part of the party’s parliamentary conferences, which included an address by the director of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Safeguard Defenders, Peter Dhalin, who denounced in a report the existence of informal Chinese police stations in Portugal.

In addition to this proposal, Cotrim Figueiredo also argued that, after hearing Peter Dahlin speak, the “most obvious consequence” would be for the Liberal Initiative to ask again for the immediate suspension of Portugal’s extradition agreement with Hong Kong.

“We will not accept any refusal in relation to this claim, given Portugal’s supposed interests in the region, which do not justify putting human rights in second, third or last place,” he said, stressing that this position is above “real political interests”.

In his speech at the dinner, Peter Dahlin said that there are “three main trends in China” in the last five years, which have accelerated during the second mandate of Chinese President Xi Jinping,

The director of Safeguard Defenders spoke of the Chinese government increasing the number of people who “disappear”, increasing the ratio of convictions and fears that it will apply the concept of extraterritoriality (exemption from local jurisdiction or law) to persecute political dissidents outside their country, and criticised the extradition agreements that Portugal has with China and Hong Kong.

On extraditions, the activist said he had read and seen Portuguese rulings and appeals regarding extraditions to China and felt “almost ashamed to be European”.

“They are a joke”, he summed up.

Peter Dahlin also accused China of putting in place a system of kidnappings to capture Chinese dissidents abroad.

During his speech, the Swedish activist who spent about a decade in China also criticised Portugal for not supervising the investments made in the country, as well as for not preparing for a situation in which China will enter a kind of “economic black hole,” just as happens, to some extent, with the isolation of Russia.

The director of the NGO believes that when there is an invasion of Taiwan, this will happen and China “will disappear”, and countries will need to draw up a plan for such a situation.

The parliamentary conference of the Liberal Initiative take place between today and Tuesday in Coimbra.