Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Multi-national cultural centre launched in Macau

Posted by Kimberly on June 3, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
June 03, 2007, page 2 (898 words)

 

Nearly three years after the decision was made, a protocol of intentions to implement a Centre for Research on Economic and Cultural Relations Between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CHIPOR) here in Macau, was finally launched yesterday.
Signatories from each of the representative countries, Portugal, Brazil, Cape Vert, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Angola and Mozambique, were present to sign the protocol as well as Mr Wang Wei, the Director-General of the Policy Research Department Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr Wang was invited to attend by the IIUM and said, “The relationship, cultural and political and economical between China and the Portuguese speaking countries are developing faster and faster so this kind of service is very useful for the development of relationships.”
According to Professor Ivo Carneiro de Sousa, joint co-ordinator of the centre for History and Heritage at the Macau Inter-University Institute (IIUM), “Macau is the right place for the signing of this protocol.
“This agreement will enable common pursuits in thinking and research on the growing economic and cultural ties between China and the Portuguese speaking world,” he said.
With the university able to provide a common platform for both worlds, it is a unique opportunity.
Prof de Sousa added “China has invested extensively in many of these countries in many enterprises through the Portuguese speaking world,” namely the countries current role within Angola and Mozambique.
The Centre will work as a permanent platform within which to develop general and specialised communications between China and the Countries of Portuguese Language (CPL) through studies, training sessions and expert discussion and reflection among experts.
The Centre will be run by three key people; Ms Cristina Tavares, the main researcher and two co-ordinators, Mr Jose Alves and Mr Martin Chung Chi-Kei.
Having previously completed his Master’s thesis on Portuguese companies in China, Mr Alves is ideally placed to utilise his knowledge in this area.
Asked what research the Centre will be looking into, Mr Alves said, “we would like to produce research of high quality, academic quality that will be published in top journals in the world, in Europe and in the United States.
“That same research will be spread, disseminated to companies, organisations and governments of all these countries, producing these materials to different audiences.”
Mr Chung added, “to be more specific, for example, one way we could tackle this is, China’s activity now in Africa, for example in Angola and Mozambique, has been attracting a lot of attention actually on the international arena but so far there has not been much research done.
“So one possible project we could embark on would be to keep that kind of information on these kind of relationships, economically, culturally, perhaps also politically.”
This would be useful for several groups of people, certainly businessesmen wishing to enter these markets and require pertinent information prior to doing so.
Students as well could benefit, where “this would lead to a better understanding of what’s actually going on rather than listening to rhetoric on the newspapers.
So personally, I feel this is one meaningful aspect that we can help provide,” said Mr Chung.
Mr Alves said that while knowledge of Chinese investment in Angola, Mozambique and Brazil is well known, .
“You don’t hear much of other countries like East Timor or Cape Verde. Cape Verde actually has a program of Chinese investments, quite significant for the next few years.
“So our goal is to… do case studies, interview people, do surveys and again, produce high quality research papers,” he said.
He added that this same advice will be given to interested parties, whether companies or members of the public.
“Other countries who are not yet having significant Chinese investments will learn from the experiences already in place,” he said.
The Centre has three key ideas that it will be focussing on over the next two years.
“One is about the intensive study of the opportunities for Chinese businesses going to these eight countries and countries with Portuguese languages coming to China,” said Mr Alves.
Macau’s unique position balancing these two worlds will serve as a good platform, according to Mr Alves, adding that the language and cultural background of himself and Ms Tavares would would greatly assist this process.
“I think an understanding of cultural affairs, of cultural things, is very important to trade and development,” he said.
The Centre will also create a comprehensive database detailing the law, regulations, institutions and companies within these countries, that will be available to be viewed on the internet.
“We hope that this website is not only for these countries,” said Mr Alves.
“It’s going to be for the whole world, America or Europe, who is very concerned, or interested in what’s going on about these Chinese companies going to Africa for example.”
Thirdly, the Centre’s research will provide a means of interchange and exchange, “because face-to-face meetings is also very important,” said Mr Alves.
“It’s not just to produce papers and being in an office.”
The Centre will be based at the IIUM, but within the new campus.
“We are building a new campus…so there I am sure we will have lots of room. For now…we will make room!” said Ms Tavares.
From the very beginning, all the information produced will be made available to the general public, most likely using the three common languages in Macau; Chinese, Portuguese and English.

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