The visit of the Chief Executive of Macao to Portugal restarts work on rapprochement with Portuguese-speaking countries. It also represents an opportunity to gain credit within the European Union and to promote the Greater Bay Area – unknown in international markets, but fundamental for China’s development and influence.
The reunion, three months after opening to the world, also demonstrates the political will to make up for lost time as soon as possible – which is extremely positive. But the pandemic, despite having ended, raised a series of questions in terms of Macau’s galloping integration into China; and whether it respects their autonomy. In three years, the local population witnessed the deconstruction of a decades-old political and economic model, and all the changes point to a rapprochement with China, and not with the world – despite not restricting it.
For those looking from the outside, this context conditions relationships. This week, before the arrival of the Chief Executive to Portugal, the Portuguese media echoed the concerns of the people and local politicians regarding the National Security Law and the Portuguese exodus. Once again, it only reveals the impact that this trip has, and the responsibility of the delegation to clarify the issues that cool relations with Lusophony and the EU.
Ho Iat Seng must not pass between the raindrops, otherwise the silence will speak louder, and the accusations around the RAEs will gain strength. Macau’s future depends on its ability to counter arguments that paint a scenario of loss of freedoms, as this dictates China’s relations with the world. The path is long and difficult, especially due to the distancing that the pandemic has brought. The discourse of “secular friendship” and “deepening relationships” gains dimension in this displacement, but it only becomes real when there are actions in this direction at the domestic level.
To begin with, creating conditions to bring in Portuguese talent is proof of good faith. Macao’s multicultural component maintains its individualism and relevance to China. I agree with António Trindade when he says that the platform is “little used”. We are just at the beginning of the new Macau. But anyone who thinks that the fight against prejudice does not involve a strong presence of the Portuguese-speaking community in the MSAR is mistaken. The reality is that 2.3 percent of Portuguese speakers is a poor showcase for what the Region wants and should be in the future.
*Executive Director of PLATAFORMA