The high level of the participants in the Forum Macau Ministerial Conference 2016 is interpreted by analysts as a sign of the growing importance of the Portuguese language block in the international projection to which China is committed.
Analyst David Dodwell said that the presence of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng for 3 days in Macau to attend the ministerial conference is “revealing” of “soft” diplomacy that China is developing, trying to “build a bigger influence on the world economy.”
Together with Forum Macau, says Dodwell in an article in Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post, strengthening the influence of China is founded on other instruments such as the “One Belt, One Road,” strategy, the China-Africa Cooperation Forum and the China-Africa Business Council.
Brazil, Angola and Portugal, according to Dodwell, each individually justify the time invested by Keqiang in Macau, and, despite the economic difficulties experienced by these countries, China’s outlook is “undoubtedly long-term” and the current situation “should not stop diplomatic efforts, particularly if accompanied by generous investments.”
Another of Keqiang’s aims, according to Dodwell, was to support Macau, affected by the fall in the gaming industry, in its position as a financial centre to establish a connection with the Portuguese-speaking economies.
At the airport and before leaving Macau on Wednesday, China’s prime minister said he believed Macau, which historically has been China’s door to the outside, would develop even further and in the future play an important role in opening China up to the world.
In the latest issue of Macao Magazine, José Luis de Sales Marques, President of the Institute of European Studies of Macau said that the “One Belt, One Road” initiative creates a framework that gives “meaning and focus” to the growth and development initiatives of the Forum, which has the “necessary knowledge” for investments in relationships and infrastructure planned in the strategy.
The financial infrastructure to support the strategy, it added, such as the Asian Bank for International Investments and the Silk Road Fund, can provide technical expertise and opportunities for “solid investments in infrastructure projects in Portuguese-speaking countries to private and institutional investors from Macau, and for the future Macau Fund.”
One of the novelties of the Fifth Ministerial Conference on 11 and 12 October was that the headquarters of the US$1 billion fund for investment in Portuguese-speaking countries announced by China in 2010 will be transferred from Beijing to Macau to facilitate contact with potential stakeholders.
The conference was considered by Secretary Lionel Leong as one of the most productive ever, with the presentation of 18 measures for Portuguese-speaking countries and 19 others to support the development of Macau, such as the fund, which could “better reflect, Macau as (a) financial centre,” helping “to carry out or to process all transactions between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.”
The new measures to extend Macau’s role include its transformation into a financial services platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, the creation of the Confederation of Entrepreneurs from China and Portuguese-speaking countries and a training base for Chinese-Portuguese bilingual professionals.
The measures also include the Cultural Exchange Centre and the Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, and the construction of the Complex of Commerce and Trade Cooperation for China and the Portuguese-speaking countries.
The Prime Minister of China Li Keqiang announced the allocation of at least 2 billion yuan (US$300 million) in loans with preferential terms to the Portuguese-speaking African and Asian Forum members, in order to promote the productive capacity of beneficiary countries.
The 21st edition of the Macau International Fair (MIF) is scheduled for 20 to 22 October with the participation of over 50 countries and regions spread across more than 1,600 “stands,” said the Macau Institute for Trade and Investment Promotion (IPIM).
The Fair includes a “Partner country themed pavilion – Portugal” and “Partner city themed pavilion – Beijing” at the entrance, with a total area of over 800 square metres. (macauhub)