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In these treaties London capitalized on its military strength – notably at sea – in order to extract significant concessions from the hard-pressed Portuguese.

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- South China Sea - Carter is set to meet his Philippine counterpart, Delfin Lorenzana, in Hawaii on Friday, where the Pentagon chief is hosting an "informal" meeting for defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Previous summits have tended to focus on China and its growing reach across the South China Sea.

However, the frustration often felt in Portugal was genuine, and could be exploited.

This is what Germany did, for example, in its 1916 declaration of war against Portugal.

Even so, Brexit represents a significant concern for Portugal, as a result of its possible consequences for both bilateral relations with the UK and the future of the European Union.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday said America's alliance with the Philippines remains "ironclad" even though the Asian ally's leader has vowed to end joint military exercises.

However, as soon as the UK applied for membership of the EEC – a more ambitious organization, with supranational institutions and a common external tariff – Portugal had to follow in its footsteps in order to secure its access to the British market.

Lisbon quickly requested associate membership of the EEC, a dramatic step for the New State, since it implied that within fifteen years Portugal would be ready to join the EEC as a full member.

Beijing has in recent years rapidly expanded its physical presence in the strategically vital waterway, turning small maritime features, islets and reefs into much larger islands capable of holding military facilities.

Carter stressed, as he has repeatedly, that the US military will ignore Beijing's contentious South China Sea claims, and keep operating in waters and airspace surrounding the islands.

In the decade that followed, trade with Great Britain declined in overall importance for the Portuguese.

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