Macau, focus of opportunities between China, Portugal and the Portuguese-speaking Countries

23 February 2017

Macau is fit to become a focal point for triangular cooperation between China and Portugal and the Portuguese-speaking countries, on which the Portuguese and Chinese authorities have said they are focused.

At the “Macau – A bridge in the economic relationship between China and Portuguese Speaking Countries” conference held on Tuesday in Lisbon, Nie Quan, the Chinese Embassy political attache in Lisbon, said that economic cooperation, one of the “five pillars” of the” bridge” of yjr Special Administrative Region, “is no longer limited to bilateral issues,” and is launching, “trilateral projects.”

“This world is full of uncertainty, but we are sure that Macau has played a key role in accelerating economic relations between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries,” said the Chinese diplomat, a former resident of Macau himself.

In addition to the growth of economic and trade relations, he said, the Macau “bridge” is based on its particular characteristics: bilingualism, privileged geographical location, infrastructure and environment for trade, in addition to longstanding historical and cultural ties with Portuguese-speaking countries.

Other pillars, said Quan, are the recognition of Macau’s role by the Portuguese-speaking countries and the “strong support” of the central government of China to its role in relation to the Portuguese-speaking countries, supported by specific measures adopted at the ministerial conference of Forum Macau.

The last pillar is Macau’s “need” to diversify its economy which, combined with the “mission” given to it by the central government creates the conditions for it to make the most of the opportunity created.

Fernanda Ilhéu, a researcher at Lisbon’s Institute of Economics and Management (ISEG) and coordinator of China Logus (an advisory hub of the ISEG Management Studies Centre), said that Macau will now be home to the institutions that manage China’s funds for Portuguese-speaking countries, which may be beneficial for all parties, increasing triangular cooperation opportunities at a time when investments that are part of the “One Belt, One Road” strategy are starting to arrive.

“I think we all want to be together with China in this belt and this road to do that we needed Macau to have an even more active role, in terms of the relationship and knowledge,” said the researcher.

Severino Cabral, president of the Brazilian Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies (IBECAP), said that the current situation also brings an opportunity for “Portugal to reemerge,” taking advantage of “its leadership in the special relationship with the Chinese world, through Macau.”

“Macau, by being created within this extraordinary concept of one country, two systems, kept Portuguese as an official language (…) symbolises the creation of the world of Chinese language and culture and the Portuguese culture and language,” in several continents, said the Brazilian academic.

The one-day conference, at which Macauhub was a media partner, was attended by financial sector officials, including Pedro Cardoso of Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU), as well as heads of Banco Santander Totta, BCP Capital, Fosun, Energias de Portugal (EDP), Redes Energéticas Nacionais (REN) and the Port of Sines.

The President of Portugal closed the conference noting that 2017 may prove to be “a particularly significant year in the deepening of relations” between Portugal and China, and that the Chinese approach is beneficial for the European Union.

“Everything points to a deepening of the relations between that world and China in the next few years. And Portugal – in all three communities [European Union, Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) and the Ibero-American community] – will be an active and important player in this relationship,” he said.

“But the world is made of additions, not subtractions. It is adding new strategic vectors. Portugal is not discovering China for the first time. Macau is sign of that,” said the Portuguese head of state. (macauhub)