But what was the premier of an aspiring superpower really doing in those remote islands?
Simple: Air Base number 4, also known as Lages Airbase, jointly operated by Portugal and the United States Air Force.
This is an important refueling station for aircraft that can't clear the Atlantic Ocean in a single shot, and the played a critical role during the two Gulf Wars.
Here’s what Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China, said in an article titled Red Flag over the Atlantic: "Peace in the North Atlantic and advances in air-to-air refueling have decreased the importance of the strategic runway, which is now rarely used by the US. Pentagon budget cutters, according to some observers, are planning to make Lajes a "ghost base."
This would obviously impact the local economy, which depends a lot on servicing the Americans on the base.
Image: Omae Kenichi (R), the Japanese author who stirred up a controversy by suggesting that Taiwan should unify with China in 2003, shakes hands with Gordon Chang, a Chinese American writer who made a gloomy prediction of China's fall in his book titled "The Coming Collapse of China," during a dialogue meet in Taipei, 02 April 2003.