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Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui arrives in Portugal to talk cooperation with China

Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on arrived in Portugal on Sunday morning set to discuss, among other issues, cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.

In his second visit to Portugal since assuming office in 2009, Chui was expected to meet President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister Antonio Costa on Monday.

Macau-based political commentator Larry So Man-yum said the visit was “quite significant because Macau plays a role as the platform between Portuguese-speaking countries and China under the central government’s initiative ‘One Belt, One Road’.”

So said that “the chief executive of Macau is going there to consolidate the deal, so the platform can actually function.”

Macau and Portugal have maintained close contacts since the former enclave’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1999, he noted. “This trip also serves to reaffirm that ‘we are friends and we will be stronger together in the future’, especially using the Portuguese language as a competitive advantage and bringing better business to China via Macau,” So said.

Portuguese is still an official language in Macau.

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The 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries will take place in Macau between October 11 and 12. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is expected to attend the event.

Social affairs commentator Leung Kai-yin also noted that the relationship between Portugal and Macau had always been very different from the one between the UK and its former colony, Hong Kong. “Portugal has always wanted to preserve a harmonious relationship with China, of course, also because of economic reasons,” he said.

Chui will also preside, along with Portugal’s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, over a meeting of the Macau-Portugal Joint Committee in Lisbon. “Both sides will engage in discussions regarding further cooperation opportunities arising from the plans to transform Macau into a world centre of tourism and leisure; and to become a commercial and trade cooperation service platform between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries,” the Macau government said.

Chui is also going to meet students from Macau in Portugal.

Unlike Chui’s previous official visit to Portugal, there are no ministers joining the trip, which will end on September 15.