Portuguese American Journal

China: Chinese Ambassador visiting Terceira Island – Azores

The Chinese Ambassador to Portugal, Zhao Bentang, met with the Vice President of the Regional Government, Artur Lima, in Angra do Heroísmo, on Terceira island, to offer projects in the areas of Culture, Research and Science.

Among the projects discussed at the meeting was the setting up of a Mandarin teaching institute on Terceira Island or São Miguel Island, and the holding of a cultural week “so that locals can learn more about Chinese culture.”

Ambassador Bentang told the press, “Portugal and China are strategic partners. We have excellent relations in all areas: political, economic and cultural. We have cooperation, we have projects, but not enough. That’s why we came here to study and look for more opportunities, with the aim of expanding and deepening cooperation.”

Highlighting the possibility of strengthening the “export of products from the Azores to China, such as milk and cheese,” the promotion of tourism and the development of aquaculture projects, Ambassador Bentang added that, “Portugal and China are countries that signed a maritime cooperation and blue economy agreement,” and that there is “a lot of potential” to be explored. He stressed that it is possible to “strengthen friendship and cooperation between the Azores and provinces and cities in China”.

Asked about China’s interest in the base of Lajes or in the port of Praia da Vitória, on Terceira Island, Ambassador Bentang said that the country does not have a special interest in the Azores, only in cooperation for the development of the region and the “mutual benefit.”

According to vice-president Artur Lima the visit is a “first step” towards deepening a “partnership relationship, whether scientific, economic or cultural, with China,” namely commercial relations with “very interesting potential” especially in the export of milk and dairy products. He also commented that the Chinese community in the Azores, which comprises around 400 people, is “well integrated in the region,” 

Although there is no evidence that China has a particular geopolitical interest in the Azores, China has been expanding its influence in various parts of the world, including in Africa, South America, and the South Pacific. 

Portugal has long historical ties with China and China has been increasing its presence in Portugal in recent years, investing in various Portuguese companies and infrastructure projects.

Today, the two counties maintain strong economic ties, with China being Portugal’s largest trading partner outside of the European Union. There are also cultural and educational exchange programs between the two countries, and many Chinese students study in Portugal each year.


Portugal’s historical ties with China date back to the 16th century when Portuguese explorers arrived in China. Portuguese traders and missionaries played an important role in China during the Ming and Qing dynasties, with Macau being a Portuguese colony for over 400 years until its handover to China in 1999. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish direct trade relations with China, and brought Western science, mathematics, and technology to China. 



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