In an interview with Plataforma Macau, the consul general of Portugal in Macau highlights “the importance that the President intended to give to the business theme, scientific research and university cooperation, which includes the dissemination of the Portuguese language”. Vítor Sereno tece ainda rasgados elogios à comunidade portuguesa de Macau e defende que a Região oferece “vantagens competitivas” às empresas portuguesas que apostem no mercado chinês, em especial no Delta do Rio das Pérolas.
What is the importance you attach to President Cavaco Silva’s visit to Macau?
SERENO VICTOR – The greatest importance. President Aníbal Cavaco Silva was in Macau previously, in his duties as prime minister (in 1987), when he signed the Joint Declaration in 1994. Despite the high-level visits made by then Prime Minister José Sócrates, and more recently by Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas, what is a fact is that almost a decade ago – since the visit of President Jorge Sampaio, in January 2005 – we did not have such an important Portuguese dignitary to visit the People’s Republic of China and the Macau Special Administrative Region (Macao SAR).

PM – What is the profile of this delegation and what are its main objectives?
V.S. – The President’s agenda, on this visit, has a strong economic and university component, which justifies that the delegation includes more than 100 entrepreneurs, managers, heads of university and state entities. He is also accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister, Paulo Portas, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rui Machete, as well as the Ministers of Economy, Pires de Lima and Education, Nuno Crato, which demonstrates the importance that Mr. The President intended to focus on business, scientific research and university cooperation, including the dissemination of the Portuguese language. For this reason, economic seminars were planned between Portuguese and Chinese entrepreneurs, but also several meetings with university students.

PM – What stands out in Macau agenda?
V.S. – The Macau component has a powerful side linked to the Portuguese community. The President has always said that the Portuguese diaspora, besides to being a strategic asset, must be an embassy of Portugal in the countries where it is located. Your coming here is a way to honor this community, which for me is of extraordinary value. A community that knew how to read history, understand change and position itself strategically in the new social, economic and political dynamics of Macau.

PM – How do you describe this community and what value should Portugal give it?
V.S. – It is a community that knew how to integrate itself in a calm and harmonious way, while still claiming for itself that which, within the framework and in compliance with the legal system, it may be entitled to; actively and actively participates in the development strategies defined by the MSAR, exhibiting a competence, an entrepreneurial spirit, verticality and professionalism that constitute the anchor of the presence of many compatriots in diverse and prestigious positions in public administration, in companies, in the academy; realizes the importance that this region of the world plays in the world order and in global trade and that it participates in various initiatives and projects that will guarantee its presence at the forefront of Macau’s future; and it is a community that knew how to organize itself around nuclei, institutions and associations that constitute important support and solidarity networks among Portuguese, being also important agents in the preservation and promotion of brands that are an intrinsic part of Macau’s specificity – the Portuguese language and culture.

PM – How do you analyze the current moment of relations between Portugal and China? And what future do you see for the relations between the two countries?
V.S. – Our relations with the People’s Republic of China and the Macau Special Administrative Region are the best. We live in very happy times in our bilateral relationship. I also remember that this year marks 35 years of diplomatic relations between Portugal and the People’s Republic of China, as well as the 15 years of the transfer of the MSAR administration, from Portugal to the People’s Republic of China. As relações entre os dois povos têm assumido um destaque muito particular no quadro da recuperação económica de Portugal (vide os exem- plos dos investimentos da China Three Gorges, da State Grid e da Fosun) e, nos últimos anos, têm-se multiplica- do as oportunidades de investimento com vantagens mútuas, bem como o estreitamento das nossas relações, no- meadamente, nas vertentes comercial, cultural e científica.

PM – Essa dinâmica positiva pode crescer no futuro próximo?
V.S. – O que desejamos é que a nossa dinâmica bilateral se fortaleça cada vez mais dando conteúdo a uma políti- ca que, da nossa parte, irá privilegiar a Ásia e a CPLP como regiões estratégi- cas da sua atuação.

PM – What role does Macao play in deepening relations between Lisbon and Beijing?
V.S. – Macau is currently a region of great economic well-being, full employment, with a relatively small economy, but with a high degree of openness to the outside, with one of the lowest tax rates in the world, enjoys stable finances, is endowed with a separate customs zone and a free port, it has no exchange restrictions and is a bridge between international markets and mainland China. That is why, naturally, from a cultural, historical and geographical point of view, it is a possible bridge of exchange with China. It is recalled that the Portuguese settled in this Region creating several points of exchange, transforming this peninsula into a lucrative trading post between China, Japan and Europe, a characteristic that has remained for centuries. Macau thus assumed the role of connecting China with the outside world, the place of contact and crossing between the West and the East. This role is maintained and its relevance has been strengthened The Macao SAR, which has a mark of its specificity in multiculturalism, also has a competitive advantage, assuming today a predominant role as a platform between China and the world and, in particular, with Portuguese-speaking countries.

PM – How can Portuguese companies exploit the potential of the Macau platform, a concept that has been politically firm for over a decade, but still little developed in practice?
V.S. – In my opinion, and given the small size of the market, Portuguese companies should not see Macau as a final destination, but rather as a good way to reach Greater China, taking advantage of the various agreements signed by Macao SAR and aimed at development and integration with mainland China. I recall that the western margin of the Pearl River Delta is a highly populated and infrastructured area, inhabited by large tens of millions of people with great purchasing power. The province of Guangzhou – alone with a population of over 100 million – is one of the richest in China and an industrial and commercial hub of growing importance.

PM – Many Portuguese companies question the advantages of being based in Macau, instead of in Beijing, Shanghai, or even in other Asian countries …
V.S. – Due to its specificity in the Asian context, Macau has some advantages for Portuguese companies compared to other countries in the region, namely the fact that it is a Special Administrative Region with its own governance separated from mainland China by true borders, within which regimes of Rule of law and market economies; having a different and successful political – constitutional regime within China, of which Portugal is a co-author; a legal system that is essentially of Portuguese origin and Portuguese as an official and legal language. On the other hand, taking advantage of the Macau Forum, Portugal has the greatest interest in establishing partnerships between Portuguese and Chinese companies for the development of projects in Portuguese-speaking countries and mainland China, within the scope of the Cooperation and Development Fund.

PM – What is the importance you attach to the three new centers for the promotion of Lusophone relations announced for Macau?
V.S. – The action plan initiatives for the next three years, which include a food distribution center, the creation of a support center for small and medium-sized companies in Portuguese-speaking countries and a convention and exhibition center are of great relevance to Portugal. I recall that the Macau Forum is a platform of opportunities for all the countries that are members of it and that the Chinese authorities themselves highlighted, at the ministerial meeting in November last year, that Portugal has special values ​​for the development of tripartite projects both in Africa and in Timor-Leste.

Paulo Rego

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