New Silk Road projects Macau as “information and knowledge platform”

21 November 2017

The Chinese strategy of the New Silk Road projects Macau as an “information and knowledge platform” for Portuguese-speaking countries, said Portuguese researcher Fernanda Ilhéu.

In an article for the Oriente-Ocidente magazine, the researcher at the Higher Institute of Economics and Management (ISEG) says that Macau, beyond having a “harmonious mix” of two civilizations, is “an asset that is projected towards the future, of an inclusive global initiative, for which China believes Portugal’s contribution and that of other Portuguese-speaking countries is important.”

Macau, she said, “will have to prepare itself, reinforcing itself as a platform for information, knowledge and relationships, with China and other countries of the Asian region with Portugal in the European Union, Brazil in Latin America and Portuguese-speaking African countries.”

In the case of China’s global value chain with Portuguese-speaking countries, Ilhéu says that the responsibility for coordination lies with the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries and the Development Cooperation Fund between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, which finances the projects.

“China should try to link this initiative with the development strategies of the countries involved and, in the case of the Portuguese-speaking countries, it is important that these institutions in Macau that are responsible for coordination to have a good knowledge of the realities and projects of those countries,” says the researcher.

In 2016, for the first time Macau put together a Five-Year Development Plan which has as its priorities Macau’s participation in the “Belt and Road” strategy and the construction of the “Platform for Trade Cooperation between China and the Portuguese-speaking Countries.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently announced in Beijing 540 billion yuan (US$78.2 billion) for projects that integrate the New Silk Road Initiative, an infrastructure project with which China intends to strengthen its Business relationship in Asia, Africa and Europe.

The President also said that China will contribute an additional 100 billion yuan (US$14.5 billion) to the Silk Road Fund, set up in 2014 to finance infrastructure projects and provide assistance, over the next three years, in the amount of 60 billion yuan (US$8.7 billion) to developing countries and international organisations taking part in the initiative.

Two banks – the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China – will also offer special loans up to 380 billion yuan (US$55 billion) to support the “Belt and Road.”

In the same issue of Oriente-Ocidente magazine, researcher Paulo Duarte argues that the terminal of the long railway between China and Europe should not be Madrid, but the Portuguese capital.

“It is Lisbon that should hold the attention of Chinese policymakers, since Lisbon has maritime, river, airport, road and rail ports. It is in Lisbon (and not in Madrid) that continental Europe embraces the Atlantic, sometimes towards Africa, or towards the Americas. Lisbon can perfectly serve as a logistical centre/multimodal network as part of the Chinese effort to link peoples and cultures to a project of collective prosperity and mutual advantages,” he says.

Portugal is a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and Chinese diplomatic representatives in Lisbon have said that Portugal’s position at the heart of the Atlantic Maritime Route could play an essential role in fulfilling the “Belt and Road” in Europe. (macauhub)