The Chief Executive, Mr Ho Iat Seng, today said the bridging roles of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) in terms of serving China and Portuguese-speaking countries had been expanding, thanks to the support of the Central Government, and the foundation laid by the previous five editions of the Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao), also known as Forum Macao.
Delivering a speech at the opening of the Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting of Forum Macao, Mr Ho said Macao had become a comprehensive service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. Areas of service covered: trade and commerce; science and research; traditional Chinese medicine; culture, tourism, and the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry; trade; financial services; and youth entrepreneurship.
The Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting of Forum Macao was held today in virtual and physical form. The major venue for the event was in Macao, with a conference venue also set up in Beijing.
The meeting was held under the theme “Cooperate to fight against the pandemic, Collaborate for common development”. The meeting focused on how to strengthen exchanges regarding experience in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic; the training of people; cooperation on related issues; and how to take advantage of Macao’s platform roles in order to promote post-pandemic economic recovery.
The event was hosted by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China; and co-organised by the MASR Government, and the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao.
The Premier of the State Council, Mr Li Keqiang, today delivered a speech via video link at the opening ceremony.
The Chief Executive, in his own speech, said Forum Macao was a crucial platform for mutually-beneficial and friendly relations between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. It was also a significant stage for Macao to give further play to its role in linking China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and for Macao to integrate further into overall national development.
With the strong support of the Central Government, along with participation and concerted effort from the Portuguese-speaking countries, trade between China and those countries had seen an inspiring level of growth since the first edition of the Ministerial Conference of Forum Macao in 2003, said Mr Ho. Such achievements illustrated Forum Macao was an effective mechanism in terms of promoting cooperation and friendship; in terms of boosting trade and people-to-people ties between China and those countries; and in enhancing Macao’s international influence and the city’s own development progress.
Since its establishment, the MSAR had successfully implemented the principles of “One country, two systems”, “Macao people governing Macao”, and the enjoyment of a high degree of autonomy, said Mr Ho. The process of developing the city as a commercial and trade cooperation service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries – known as the Platform policy – had enabled Macao to give full play to its advantages, and produced fruitful results in facilitating exchange and cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
The Chief Executive also listed in his speech a number of achievements since the fifth edition of the Ministerial Conference of Forum Macao. These included: the China-Portuguese-speaking Countries Cooperation and Development Fund which had set up its headquarters in Macao; the Federation of Entrepreneurs of China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, which had also been set up in Macao; and the launch of the China-Portuguese-speaking Countries Commercial and Trade Service Platform Complex. Sound progress had been seen in relation to development of Macao’s positions as: a trading hub for food and produce from Portuguese-speaking countries; a convention and exhibition centre for economic and trade cooperation between China, Macao and Portuguese-speaking countries; and as a business and trade service centre for small- and medium-sized enterprises from China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
There had been advancement – on a progressive basis – of a number of initiatives, including: a financial service platform for commercial and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries; a renminbi clearing centre for Portuguese-speaking countries; a cultural exchange centre for China and Portuguese-speaking countries; a China-Portuguese-speaking countries’ young entrepreneur and innovation exchange centre; and a system for cultivating talented individuals bilingual in Chinese and Portuguese.
Mr Ho said in his speech – quoting what President Xi Jinping said when in Macao in 2019 during a visit to the China-Portuguese-speaking Countries Commercial and Trade Service Platform Complex – that Macao’s platform role was successfully turning from ideas into reality, from blueprint to actuality. Building Macao’s ‘platform’ policy was an important step for Macao to make further use of its strengths in order to serve the country.
The 14th Five-Year Plan of the People’s Republic of China specified expansion to functions of Macao’s platform role. Such mention fully displayed the fact the Central Government paid great attention to construction and development relating to Macao’s ‘platform’ policy, and laid a clear path for direction of future development, added Mr Ho.
The Chief Executive additionally mentioned that the Master Plan of the Development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin had been officially launched on 5 September 2021, and the management bodies of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin had been inaugurated on 17 September 2021. They were important milestones in the development of the Cooperation Zone, and the new phase of “Mutual Discussion, Joint Construction, Joint Administration and Shared Benefits” for the Cooperation Zone.
Mr Ho went on to say that such progress provided huge impetus for Macao’s long-term development, besides making further use of Macao’s advantages within its geographical region, and bolstering the city’s effort for adequate economic diversification.
Development of the Cooperation Zone would enrich Macao’s ‘platform’ roles, expand its bridging roles, and therefore offer strong and solid support for robust development in terms of the city’s overall policy as a platform, added Mr Ho.
The Chief Executive also talked about how the COVID-19 pandemic had created challenges for the organising of Forum Macao, and to Portuguese-speaking countries as well. This Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting of Forum Macao took its theme as “Cooperate to fight against the pandemic, Collaborate for common development”. It carried great significance in relation to advancing cooperation on: healthcare topics between China and Portuguese-speaking countries; promotion of joint economic recovery; and increasing the influence of Forum Macao.
Since the early stage of the COVID-19 health crisis, Macao had worked closely with the Permanent Secretariat of Forum Macao, in order to support those Portuguese-speaking countries in fighting against the pandemic, said Mr Ho. He also shared his belief that humanity shall ultimately overcome the disease and resume normal socio-economic development.
To conclude his speech, the Chief Executive said Macao would make further use of its unique strengths; seize opportunities arising from the “Belt and Road” initiative and from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with a view to optimise and advance the city’s platform role serving China and Portuguese-speaking countries. These efforts would complement Macao’s effort towards the country’s dual-circulation development pattern for economic policies; further strengthen exchange and cooperation between mainland China, Macao and Portuguese-speaking countries; push forward the goal of a community with a common future; and ensure joint progress and advancement.
After the opening ceremony, the Chief Executive and the Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the MSAR, Mr Fu Ziying, officiated at the unveiling ceremony of a plaque of the China-Portuguese-speaking Countries Exchange Centre for Epidemic Prevention.
The establishment of the Exchange Centre aims to foster cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries in relation to healthcare issues, via Macao’s advantageous platform roles. This would help elevate the overall capability of all parties to combat the COVID-19 pandemic; and therefore promote progress in public health in a global context.
During the meeting, the Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Wang Wentao, and other ministers representing participating countries, each delivered a speech, and expressed their views on how to strengthen anti-pandemic effort, and how to speed up post-pandemic economic recovery.
The participating parties agreed to enhance dialogue for anti-pandemic cooperation and post-pandemic economic recovery, in order to fight against the disease, and promote joint prosperity.
After the meeting, a joint declaration was signed summarising the consensus made during the Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting. The joint declaration also officially recognised the Republic of Equatorial Guinea as the tenth participating country of Forum Macao.