Macau's Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam, said today that the Special Administrative Region's government is making "a great effort to promote the Portuguese language and culture" in the territory, a strategy supported directly by Beijing.
Speaking to Lusa during a visit to Porto's City Council as part of the celebrations of the 40 years of diplomatic relations between Portugal and China, the official also promised more support measures at a time when the number of teachers has "almost doubled," in a commitment in line with "instructions from the central government."
"At the moment, there are about 6,700 students who are studying Portuguese in secondary schools. I no longer speak of the students who are studying in Portugal, there are more and more students coming to Portugal to continue their studies and we are also encouraging students to come," he said.
For his contribution to the development of Education and teaching of the Portuguese language and culture, Alexis Tam will be distinguished by the University of Lisbon with the honorary doctorate degree, in a ceremony scheduled for March.
"I was very happy with this honor. It means that me and my team are doing a good job of promoting the Portuguese language in Macau. I think we are doing our job well, which is appreciated by the University of Lisbon. For us, this title of 'Honoris Causa' can encourage us to do more in the future. I guarantee that the Macao SAR [Special Administrative Region of Macau] will do more in the future," he said.
Speaking to Lusa, Alexis Tam recalled that in 2019 the "20 years of the Government of Macau will be celebrated" and the territory has all the conditions to "serve as a plataform between China and Portugal in the area of trade, economy and cultural activities."
"You can ask the citizens of Macau or China, [everyone] really likes Portugal," Alexis Tam said.
"China's President, Xi Jinping was here recently. He was very well received by the Portuguese people and it has also been announced that the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, will visit China and Macau. I think all citizens will be very happy about this and that's why we are friends. Why our Peoples are friends," he said.
Without addressing the future of Macau after 2049, when the transition period agreed between Portugal and China ends, the official promised that relations between Macao and Portugal are unbreakable.
Alexis Tam said he had the "absolute certainty" that the friendship with Portugal will strengthen, "like Port wine."
"The older the better. This friendship will continue and, personally, I hope we will continue to be friends, our two Peoples," he finished.