The visit of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa adds little to the Portuguese presence in Asia and especially in China.
It is important to be the face of a European Union country that supports the Belt and Road project, so dear to Xi Jinping. China is the second largest power in the world and a major investor in Portugal.
It is important that the Portuguese president encourages Chinese and Portuguese entrepreneurs to invest; those in Portugal, the latter in China.
It is important that in Macau, Marcelo speaks with the Portuguese community, and exchange affections with all, especially with the younger generations.
But all this has been done over the last few decades and everything has turned out to be little more than a political marketing operation. The truth is that Lisbon’s disinterest fades as soon as the entourage – with more or less a sigh of relief – embarks back to the Portuguese capital.
Rarely is there more in the political and diplomatic agendas. Seeds strengthen the Portuguese presence in China and especially in Macau, beyond the friendly wink and the small crowd baths that want to have a glimpse of the dignitary.
For this to happen, there had to have been a more arduous diplomatic work, advisors who had tried hard, heads of diplomatic missions that want to do better than the poorly average.
It’s probably asking a lot, perhaps, given the busy presidential travel program. Substance is almost always the first victim of quantity.
But it is not because there were no attempts at Belém (the official residency of the Portuguese President) to see the Presidency of the Republic associated with cultural projects with some relevance in the SAR. There were even meetings in Lisbon and promises of a timely response. But MNA knows that Belém has not deigned to respond despite those promises and that efforts would be made to involve the diplomatic representatives of Beijing and Macau. Anyone living here for some decades would not expect another outcome, though. So, surprised we were not.
Laziness, lack of interest or mere lack of tea, nothing that the Portuguese community in Macau is not used to. For future memory will remain intricate and superfluous political jargons and the folklore of affections, which will soon be lost in the haze of days to come.
Nevertheless, better little than nothing. So, welcome President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.