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Macau, “the most European city of Asia”

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“For 100 years Macau was the hub of European presence in China due to Canton trading system”, defends Dr. José de Sales Marques. Speaking at a seminar held on Monday at the University of Macau, the President of the Institute of European Studies of Macau presented what he calls the six stages of “Macau’s interactions with the world”. According to him, Macau was a free port and had a colonial status which saw the territory gain international attention. Later, in the political transition period of 1999, Macau’s role as a platform between China and Europe became much pronounced by Macau’s government.
Sales Marques said that the first stage of Macau’s external role lasted from 1557 till 1640. This stage, which he refers to as “the Golden Age”, was marked by Macau’s very active interaction with Asia and beyond. Among some of the most important results of Macau’s interactions with the world, Sales Marques mentioned Macau’s associate member status with UNESCO as well as with the WTO. Calling Macau “the most European city of Asia,” he spoke of the third generation “Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between EU and Macau” that was initiated in 1993 and has continued to be renewed annually.
Though facing some limitations, as the central government of China is responsible for the foreign affairs of Macau, Sales Marques demonstrated the recognition of Macau’s international relationships quoting the Macau government website, saying “that Macau as a non-sovereign region enjoys wide-ranging relationships with most countries of the world” and is “the only Chinese city capable of developing a close relationship with the Portuguese-speaking countries of four continents.”
Though institutional relations are very good between EU and Macau, as for example trade relationships, cultural relations, Sales Marques said that in terms of building more cooperation with the EU, “Macau must be active, Macau cannot wait for something to happen.” As week points of the relations between Macau and the EU, he mentioned that the “people to people relations are very limited and NGOs have practically no role at all.”
Sales Marques has been President of the Institute of European Studies of Macau for a long time and is currently President in the General Assembly of European Union Studies Association, Macau. He is also “a very important actor in Macau,” as Prof. Paulo Canelas de Castro mentioned in his welcome and introduction of Dr. Sales Marques referring to the large number of important tasks he has fulfilled in the higher administration of Macau.
At the seminar, Sales Marques quoted Gunnar Sjostedt in order to define actorness as “capacity to behave actively and deliberately in relation to other actors in the international system.” Giving the reason for the seminar’s topic, Sales Marques said that “the Macau Special Administrative Region has an autonomous participation and interactions at various levels and this is legitimized by the basic law” being one of the most impressive interactions “The Forum for Trade and Economic Cooperation between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries”.  Monday’s UM event was part of the Master of Law Programme in European Union Law, International Law and Comparative Law and the Jean Monnet Chair


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