Macau today announced the creation of two Sino-Lusophone centres to support the establishment of Lusophone “advanced technology projects” in the Chinese region of the Greater Bay Area, with the awarding of grants and collaboration with universities and companies.
The territory’s chief executive, Ho Iat Seng, had announced last week, during the presentation of the Governmental Action Guidelines (LAG) for 2023, the establishment of a Sino-Lusophone Science and Technology Centre, but today, during the sectoral debate for the area of Economy and Finance, the government clarified that there are two spaces after all.
“A centre in the Deepened Cooperation Zone and another to be created in Macau,” noted the director of the Economic Services, Anton Tai Kin Ip, referring to the area of cooperation between Guangdong province and Macau, in Hengqin (Mountain Island).
In the session of questions from members of parliament, parliamentarian Kou Kam Fai questioned the members of the government about the operation and perspectives for these centres, especially because, he said, “often the results don’t show great efficiency, but they are always big investments.
Tai Kin Ip said that the ultimate aim is to allow “advanced technology projects from the PLP [Portuguese-speaking countries] to enter the Greater Bay Area market.
As well as this, he added, “scholarships will be awarded and [articulations will be made] between universities and also companies.
The Greater Bay is a Beijing project that aims to create a metropolis from the special administrative regions of Macau and Hong Kong, and nine cities of Guangdong province, with over 60 million inhabitants.
Also in the context of Chinese-Lusophone cooperation, the Secretary for Economy and Finance of Macau, Lei Wai Nong, said today that in 2023, the 20th anniversary year of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and the Portuguese-speaking Countries (Forum Macau), “exchange and cooperation between Mainland China, Macau and the Portuguese-speaking countries, in terms of trade, culture, conventions and exhibitions, training, among other areas, will reach a new level.
Next year, the Macau administration also hopes to begin preparatory work to hold the 6th Ministerial Conference of Forum Macau, which was not held in 2019 due to the covid-19 pandemic.
In addition to strengthening economic and trade exchanges between China and Lusophone partners, Macau plans to “promote the construction of the financial services provision platform” between the two sides and a “centre to regulate transactions in RMB [renminbi, Chinese currency] for Portuguese-speaking countries,” said Lei Wai Fong.
Also according to the secretary, the Chinese special administrative region wants to “encourage Macau banks to relentlessly provide cross-border financing services to Portuguese-speaking countries, broadening the promotional activities of products and services denominated in RMB.
After a year of “redoubled trials,” following the covid-19 pandemic, Lei Wai Nong noted that “the main axis” of government action for the portfolio he leads is to speed up economic recovery and promote the “adequate diversification” of the territory.
Macau closed its borders in March 2020 and those arriving in the territory – with the exception of mainland China – are required to serve quarantine in hotels designated by the authorities, currently set at five days.
The strict border restrictions have had a strong impact on tourism and gambling, pillars of the local economy.