Autor: Ana Carvalho Melo
China's ambassador to Portugal, Zhao Bentang, advocated strengthening cooperation with the Azores by developing projects in the areas of culture and economy.
"I have already presented our ideas for cooperation in areas such as culture, tourism and the economy," said Zhao Bentang, who attended the ceremony marking the founding of the Azores Chinese Community Association, held in Ponta Delgada.
To Açoriano Oriental, the Chinese ambassador to Portugal revealed that he presented these ideas to the vice-president of the Regional Government of the Azores, Artur Lima, to the mayor of Ponta Delgada, as well as to the mayor of Ribeira Grande.
The foundation of a Mandarin teaching institute, in Terceira island or in São Miguel island, is one of the projects envisioned for the cultural area.
Regarding economy, the ambassador explained that the cooperation between the Azores and the provinces and cities of China can help diversify regional economy, with the promotion of tourism, as well as the development of aquaculture projects.
He also highlighted the possibility of strengthening the export of Azorean products to China, such as milk and cheese, by organizing delegations from the Azores to visit China and participate in fairs, for example.
On the other hand, he recalled that "Portugal was the first country in the European Union to establish a Blue Partnership with China," stressing that the Autonomous Region of the Azores is "an important international sea and air station on the Atlantic route" and "an important node connecting Europe, Africa and America.
"The Autonomous Region of the Azores occupies a prominent place in international trade and is a key link in the Sino-Portuguese maritime convention," he said.
Zhao Bentang also stressed the Azores Chinese Community Association as a milestone.
"The foundation of the Azores Chinese Community Association allows the Chinese in Portugal to have an organization in the middle of the Atlantic, achieving full coverage of the Chinese community associations in all regions of Portugal," he said.
In this sense, he listed some of the added values of this new association.
"The constitution of this association will not only help the development of the Chinese community in a more holistic and cohesive way, but it will also contribute to better communication and integration in the local society", he said, adding: "I believe that it will also help the development of the Azores and Portugal and the Sino-Portuguese friendship. This is the great significance of this association.”
Zhao Bentang also mentioned that this association will help "the Chinese community living in the Azores to better integrate regional society. I hope that the Chinese community will make efforts to promote bridges and friendship", he said.
At the event, Zhao Bentang also highlighted that the Chinese community in the Azores, which comprises around 400 people, through "its hard work, plays an important role in the local economy and in the Region's social development".
He also stressed the support that the Chinese community in the Azores has been receiving from both the Regional Government and city councils.
Meeting with China's ambassador was "first step" to deepen partnership
The vice-president of the Regional Government, Artur Lima, considered that this meeting with China's ambassador in Portugal, Zhao Bentang, was a "first step" to deepen a "partnership, whether scientific, economic or cultural, with China".
Artur Lima also considered that, regarding commercial relations, there is a "very interesting potential", mainly in what concerns dairy products exportation.
Pedro Nascimento Cabral, after speaking to the Chinese ambassador to Portugal, said that the meeting addressed issues of common interest and cooperation prospects, also noting the municipality's intention to "deepen cultural, commercial and tourism ties".