Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said in Lisbon this week that based on their “close friendship and historic ties” and thanks to the efforts made by the two, cooperation between Macao and Portugal had been continually strengthened.
Chui also said that thanks to the opportunities offered by the central government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), Macao and Portugal would have even more cooperation chances in the future, according to a statement by the Macao Government Information Bureau (GCS) yesterday.
Chui made the remarks during a meeting with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the presidential Belém Palace in Lisbon on Monday afternoon (local time).
According to the statement, Chui also said that his current visit to Portugal had “two purposes” – to study new developments in Portugal and to attend the 6th meeting of the Macao-Portugal Joint Commission.
Chui and Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva will co-chair the meeting in Lisbon, according to previous media reports.
Protecting the Macanese
According to the statement, Chui promised in his meeting with the Portuguese head of state that the local government will strictly follow the Macao Basic Law by always taking care of, and protecting the Macanese community, and also by supporting the continuation and development of the Portuguese culture in Macao.
Customarily, the term “Macanese” refers to Macao’s community of residents of mixed Portuguese and Asian descent, which accounts for about two percent of the local population. There is also a sizeable Macanese Diaspora.
According to Article 42 of the Macao Basic Law, “the interests of the residents of Portuguese descent in Macao shall be protected by the Macao Special Administrative Region in accordance with the law, and their customs and cultural traditions shall be respected.”
Rebelo de Sousa pointed out, according to the statement, that the relationship between China and Portugal, and between Macao and Portugal, is experiencing an “excellent period”, adding that he was glad to see that President Xi Jinping “highly values” Macao’s role in connecting China and the world’s Portuguese-speaking countries (PSCs).
Rebelo de Sousa also noted that the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) is enjoying a “great” development state. The Portuguese president also mentioned Macao’s efforts to promote its moderate economic diversification, adding that progress has been made in Macao in business investments, science and technology
According to the statement, Rebelo de Sousa further noted that the Macao-based Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and PSCs plays an important role in connecting China and the PSCs.
Rebelo de Sousa also underlined that Macao’s effort to preserve, strengthen and develop the Portuguese culture and language is significant. He underlined that the sustainable development of the Portuguese language in Macao will enhance its links and cooperation in the fields of culture, society, economy, trade, science, technology and tourism with the PSCs.
Rebelo de Sousa emphasised that China is actively enhancing communication and cooperation with the PSCs, promoting the development of the Portuguese language. He said this was not only important for Portugal, but also for other PSCs, the statement said.
According to the statement, Chinese Ambassador Cai Run, Secretary for Administration and Justice Sónia Chan Hoi Fan, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng and other officials attended the closed-door meeting.
Chui: Macao & Portugal to grab BRI chances
According to another GCS statement, a reception was hosted by the Macao government in Lisbon on Monday evening (local time). A photo exhibition titled “The Successful Practice of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Principle in Macao” was held in conjunction with the reception to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the MSAR.
Chui said in a speech at the reception that the local government had always highly valued close cooperation between Macao and Portugal, adding that the two places should grab the BRI opportunities for their development and have confidence in achieving “win-win cooperation” between the two places, the statement said.
Chui pointed out that China and Portugal are “good friends and good partners”, adding that the two nations are deepening their “comprehensive strategic cooperation partnership”.
He also noted that the BRI project initiated by China has widely been recognised by the international community, and is also supported by Portugal, the statement said.
Chui further pointed out that Macao has been benefitting from the “cooperative environment” between China and Portugal, which has added “new energy” to the relationship between Macao and Portugal, according to the statement.
Chui stressed that as a key BRI city, Macao has a good “foundation and potential for cooperation” with Portugal, adding that Macao and Portugal should “jointly grab” the BRI development opportunities, the statement said.
Around 230 people attended the reception, including members of Chui’s delegation, senior Portuguese government officials, representatives of Portugal’s parliament, judiciary, Lisbon City Hall, educational institutions, and the media, the statement said.
Chui, who left for Portugal last Saturday, is slated to return to Macao this Sunday. He was scheduled to meet with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa later yesterday. His itinerary also includes a visit to Porto, northern Portugal’s main city.