Sines Becomes Economic Battleground in US-China Clash

Portugal’s Sines has become the latest economic battleground between the United States and China, with tensions looking to stay high.

Portugal’s deepwater port of Sines, in Alentejo, has become another economic battleground in the clash between the United States and China after Portugal’s tender to build and operate a new terminal attracted interest from both countries.

U.S. companies are looking to expand the port’s liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal, which they say will reduce Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, The Sunday Guardian writes. Chinese firms, on the other hand, have had Sines earmarked as part of the Belt & Road Initiative since Portugal joined in 2018, according to the publication.

The growing influence of China in Portugal has drawn criticism, such as the recent debate over 5G and warnings from George Glass, the U.S. ambassador to Portugal, of potential sanctions. However, Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa, alongside numerous other politicians, has continued to echo Portugal’s 2018 commitment, which has roots in Chinese investments during the last financial crisis.

Sines has long been recognized for its geostrategic importance, and the now delayed outcome of the tender — put forth in August 2020 — is expected to shed light on Portugal’s future stance regarding the U.S. and China, according to the Sunday Guardian.

Seemingly not wanting to fall either side of the fence just yet, Portugal’s infrastructure minister, Pedro Nunes, said last month: “Portugal wants people from the U.S., China, and the rest of the world to invest in Sines, and if the U.S. wants to invest, our arms are open to it”, according to the publication.

However, tensions are likely to remain high in what has been a very visible, and verbal, clash between the U.S. and China in Portugal.

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