China is in investing more heavily in Portugal than in any other Western country. Chinese corporations already have large stakes in Portugal’s energy markets, healthcare and air transportation. In recent years thousands of Chinese have gained Portuguese citizenship via its Golden Visa program. The question is: Is Portugal China’s foothold in the EU?
Last September Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and eight members of his government travelled to Portugal to meet his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa. It was the third such visit by either the Chinese PM or President in the past four years. On this occasion, the Portuguese prime minister would then travel with the Chinese party back to China for a meeting with the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, at the People’s Palace In Beijing. It was the latest example of the increasing bond between the two countries, and displayed how important Portugal is to a China keen on spreading its global influence by massive investment.
2011 – The Start Of The Invasion
In 2011, China was keen on internationalizing its major companies and Portugal was in debt and hungry for money. Since then, Chinese investors have pumped €12.5 billion into Portugal, which is more than the amount they have earned from privatizations in that period (€9.5 billion). China is currently the largest investor in Portugal, assuming a role that was previously attributed to oil-rich Angola, itself a former Portuguese colony. Chinese companies have purchased many of the best and most profitable Portuguese companies.
Today China’s financial influence is far greater in Portugal than in any other Western country. Chinese companies have a strong presence in strategic areas such as energy, as well as a significant dispersion in various areas of the economy, ranging from health, insurance, real estate, tourism and, among others, aviation and the media. Indeed, almost nothing escapes the Chinese sphere of influence.
China may also be on the verge of becoming the largest shareholder of Portuguese private banking. If that were to happen, it would be an economic and political masterstroke, and would grant China an undeniable foothold in Europe. The Chinese international conglomerate and investment company Fosun has since the summer of 2016 been negotiating to invest in the BCP (Banco Comercial Português), where it intends to hold up to 30% of the capital. Another Chinese company, the Minsheng Financial Group, are on the verge buying the Portuguese Novo Banco (New Bank). If these operations are successful, Chinese investors will control around 30% of the Portuguese financial market.
Portugal Were Targeted By China A Decade Ago!
Portugal was reportedly targeted ten years ago by China as one of four potential strategic partners around the world. One of the key reasons why their relationship has been so successful is that China feels welcome in Portugal more so than in many other Western countries, and this is also one reason they have invested there so heavily. Of course, such massive Chinese involvement has not been unopposed, and indeed, allowing the control of the energy sector by a foreign-owned company has sent shockwaves throughout the entire Portuguese political spectrum, from left to right.
No other country in Europe has given up control of its energy distribution and transport system apart from Portugal. The Chinese government is grateful, but clearly has further aspirations. Chinese economic influence is already significant and Chinese influence on Portuguese looks set to be a foregone conclusion. Opposition parties may complain as to their country’s loss of identity, but if an opposition leader gains power, would they really want to ostracize their main benefactor, the very nation that has bailed them out of economic ruin?
Chinese Demand For Portugal’s Golden Visa Program
It is surely not a coincidence that during the same decade in which China has systematically been buying up Portugal’s utilities, there has also been overwhelming Chinese demand for Portugal’s Golden Visa Program. In 2011, China began investing massively in Portugal, and the following year, Portugal introduced its Golden Visa program, allowing foreign investors the chance to gain Portuguese residency and eventually citizenship in return for a minimum investment of a €500,000 real estate purchase.
The Golden Visa program has been hugely successful, attracting large numbers of investors from China. Since 2012, 80% of the 4,000 Golden Visas sold have been purchased by Chinese investors, with thousands more applying each year.
Summing up, despite what naysayers from Portuguese politics and the EU might say, for now, China’s investment into Portugal has been a good thing, as has the thousands of Chinese citizens who have purchased property and made Portugal their home. Let’s face it, Portugal is a beautiful country with a fabulous coastline and more hours of sunshine than any other EU country. The Portuguese are widely regarded as the most friendly people in the world. Therefore it’s not surprising so many Chinese are keen to make Portugal their home, especially as it gets a little more Chinese every day!
If you are interested in gaining Portuguese citizenship, the next step is to contact us at 2ndPassports.com and we will advise you on what to do next, then guide you through the entire citizenship process. 2ndPassports.com employs its own European based legal team, and they liaise with the governments of all EU nations with CBI programs. We deal with the best real estate developers in Portugal, and can get you a piece of the more lucrative property deals that will see you double and triple your investment in no time.
For further information about all of the excellent Citizenship by Investment programs featured on 2ndPassports.com, don’t hesitate to contact us direct via email, or if you prefer WhatsApp or Telegram. You can also speak directly to one of our expert representatives using our encrypted phone and Skype lines.
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