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China vows to cement ties with Portuguese-speaking countries

The fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries is being held in Macao on Oct 11 and 12.

Premier Li Keqiang, who is attending the event, stressed Macao’s role in connecting China with the world’s Portuguese-speaking nations.

Known as Forum Macao, the Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries opened on Oct 11.

Premier Li made a keynote speech at the opening ceremony, emphasizing China’s Belt and Road initiative was in line with the development goals of many Portuguese-speaking countries.

“China and Portuguese-speaking countries account for 17 percent of the global economy and 22 percent of the world’s population, and their common interests and need for mutual support are increasing. The belt and road initiative aligns with the development plans of many Portuguese-speaking countries,” Premier Li said.

Since the forum’s establishment in 2003, total trade volume between China and Portuguese-speaking countries has grown from $11 billion to more than $100 billion in 2014. And there’s great potential for further development. This year, the focus is on cooperation among the participants from 2017 to 2019. At the forum, delegates signed several memorandums.

“The political and social environments in some Portuguese-speaking countries are unstable. This makes it harder to expand the economic and trade cooperation with China. Participant countries should find a new way for better cooperation,” Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau Baciro Dja said.

Participants at the forum agreed to tap into the potential economic and trade cooperation, and make full use of the rich natural resources and consumer markets in the Portuguese-speaking countries. At the same time, Beijing said it will support Macao’s goal of being a global center of tourism and leisure, and reinforce the region’s role as a link between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.

Analysts say the “One Belt, One Road” initiative led by China will bring the Portuguese-speaking countries great opportunities in the next three years. All the participants of the forum should make complementary advantages to realize common development. And in this course, it’s important for Macao to play a bigger bridging role.