Taiwan’s representative in Lisbon, Chang Tsung-Che, challenged the Portuguese Government to open a representative office in Taipei to promote tourism and business.
“It is time to create an office in Taipei so that we can advance further in the exchange between our peoples”, said Chang Tsung-Che in an interview this week with Lusa news agency.
Portugal established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on February 8, 1979, leading to the closure of the Republic of China (Taiwan) embassy in Lisbon.
In the statement issued at the time, Portugal recognized Beijing “as the sole legal government of China and Taiwan as an integral part of the People’s Republic of China”.
Until the 25th of April, Portugal did not recognize the PRC and considered the government of Taiwan as the legitimate representative of the Republic of China, founded in 1912.
The PRC was proclaimed by Mao Zedong in 1949, after the victory of the Chinese Communist Party (PCC) against the nationalists of the Kuomintang, of Chiang Kai-shek, who took refuge on the island of Taiwan, located about 180 kilometers east of China continental.
Until 1975, Taiwan maintained a diplomatic mission in Lisbon, as well as consular representations in some of the former Portuguese colonies, such as Timor.
After the UN declared the PRC as China’s representative, in 1971, Taiwan ceased to have diplomatic relations with most countries, which are reduced to just over a dozen currently.
However, Taiwan developed what Chang Tsung-Che called “substantial” rather than diplomatic relations, which allowed it to exchange economic and cultural representations with many countries.
The European Union maintains a delegation in Taiwan and European countries such as Spain, Italy, France, Germany or Belgium have representative offices in Taipei.
Regarding Portugal, the head of the Economic and Cultural Center of Taipei said that tourism would be the first sector to develop.
According to data from the year before the covid-19 pandemic, the number of tourists from Taiwan traveling to other countries exceeded 17 million people.
Of this total, around 540,000 visited Europe, but only 7,370 went to Portugal.
Chang Tsung-Che suggested that TAP could open a route between Taipei and Lisbon, via Macau, while acknowledging that this would require government authorization for an air agreement to be signed.
“Our activity with Portugal will not threaten Portugal’s relationship with China, there is no political intention, I am not talking about politics, it is a commercial relationship”, he said.
Such an agreement, he said, could be signed between the representative offices of Lisbon and Taipei, if Portugal opened it, similarly to what happens with other countries.
In Lisbon since July, after having been to São Tomé and Príncipe, Chang said that Taiwanese tourists are currently traveling to a European city with direct air connections to Taipei, such as Amsterdam and Paris, and from there to other European destinations.
“But if there is a route to Lisbon, our tourists can travel directly here, visit Portugal and then go to another destination. Portugal can benefit a lot ”, he defended.
Greater direct contact would also allow businessmen from Taiwan and Portugal to establish business, he said.
“I have a lot of faith in the area of tourism, but then cooperation can expand, Portugal is very developed in renewable energies, we also have technology”, he said.
Taiwanese technology enabled the use of electronic voting machines in recent presidential elections in Brazil, according to Chang Tsung-Che, who said he helped find a company in Taiwan to provide a control component.
“If it weren’t for Taiwan’s microprocessor, Brazil might not have a new president right now,” he said.
According to data from the Strategy and Studies Office (GEE) of the Portuguese Ministry of Economy, the trade balance between Portugal and Taiwan had a negative balance of more than 335 million euros in 2021.
In that year, Portugal sold products to Taiwan worth almost 134 million euros (0.21% of total Portuguese exports), while imports amounted to more than 470 million euros (0.57%).
In Portugal’s international trade ranking, Taiwan ranked 23rd in imports in 2021, and 46th in exports, according to the GEE.
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