Signed Article by H.E. Dr. Xiao Jianguo, Chinese Ambassador to Timor-Leste,published on Timor Post
2021-05-21 15:13

On 21st May, Timor Post carried an article, both in English and Tetun, by Ambassador Dr. Xiao Jianguo entitled "To deepen the economic and trade cooperation between China and Timor-Leste with a bigger role of Macao as a platform". The full text is as follows:


As a bridge connecting China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, Macao has always been a window for Sino-Western exchanges. It enjoys deep historical and cultural ties and extensive economic and trade cooperation with the Portuguese-speaking countries including Timor-Leste. Since its return to the motherland in 1999, under the frame of "one country, two systems", Macao has been focusing on the development pattern of building "the service platform for trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries", and of playing the role of the mechanism called "the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries"(referred to as the "Macao Forum"), which has strongly promoted the practical economic and trade cooperation between China and Timor-Leste and promoted the common development of the Chinese mainland, Macao and Timor-Leste.


1. China and Timor-Leste help each other on the road of independence and development


"The Macao was the most majestic among all the ports in Guangzhou Region. Foreign countries often came to provoke and the western countries ambushed the army here." This was a vivid description of Macao and its suffering in the past by the patriotic poet Qu Dajun in the mid-17 century. In 1553, the Portuguese forcibly settled in Macao under the pretext of "borrowing land to dry water-soaked goods". Since then, China had gradually lost its jurisdiction over Macao, and the Chinese people had never stopped their struggle against occupation and colonial rule. The return of Macao to China in 1999 is another brilliant victory for the Chinese people to get rid of colonial rule and strive for national independence and liberation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.


Since its return to the motherland, Macao has been resolutely implementing the principle of "one country, two systems". Today, Macao has achieved social stability and rapid economic growth, improved people's well-being, created the best development situation in history and composed a glorious chapter of the successful practice of "one country, two systems". In this historical process, China has received universal approval, recognition and support from the international community including Timor-Leste.


As the first country born in the 21st century, Timor-Leste has a long painful history of being colonized by Portugal and occupied by Indonesia. But the Timor-Leste people, like the Chinese people, fought tirelessly for national liberation and independence and made huge sacrifices. Since its independence, Timor-Leste has been committed to developing the economy, improving people's livelihood and strengthening exchanges and cooperation with other countries. As one of the first countries to support Timor-Leste's independence and to establish diplomatic relations with Timor-Leste, China has always attached great importance to its relations with Timor-Leste, actively developed friendly cooperation and expanded exchanges in various fields. The relationship between China and  Timor-Leste has always maintained a healthy and steady development trend.


2. Playing the role of Macao as a platform to deepen the economic and trade cooperation between China and Timor-Leste


In 2003, Macao Forum was established, and Macao became the permanent host of the Forum. Along with the process of China's reform and opening up, Macao Forum regards language and culture as the link, economic and trade cooperation as the theme and common development as the goal, giving full play to unique advantages and platform role of Macao, in accordance with the common historical requirements for development and cooperation of the people of China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and effectively promotes cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries in various fields.


As one of the eight major Portuguese-speaking countries, Timor-Leste has attended five ministerial conferences consecutively since joining the Forum and dispatched national representatives to Macao. It makes full use of the role of Forum mechanism to further promote the practical exchanges and cooperation with China, continuously deepens trade and investment and expand areas of cooperation with fruitful results.

Bilateral economic and trade cooperation has been continuously deepened for mutual benefit and win-win progress. China and Timor-Leste have always adhered to the principle of mutual benefit and win-win progress in promoting steady and long-term economic and trade cooperation. In 2008, in accordance with the agreement reached between the two countries under the framework of the Forum, China officially launched the agricultural technical cooperation assistance project of hybrid rice to Timor-Leste. As of 2015, the two parties had implemented three phases of its project, carrying out a series of practical cooperation in the fields of high-yield hybrid rice cultivation demonstration. Enterprises of Timor-Leste have participated in the China International Import Expo for three consecutive years. The organic agricultural products exhibited in the Expo, such as coffee, cashew nuts, ginger and pepper, have been welcomed by the Chinese market. In recent years, enterprises in Shanghai and Macao have actively introduced natural organic coffee beans from Timor-Leste and processed them into a series of high-end coffee products, which are deeply loved by Chinese consumers including those in Macao. In 2019, the Macao Natural Aromatic Industry Association led a delegation to visit Timor-Leste to further promote the natural spices trade between Macao and Timor-Leste.


Working hand in hand to promote "the Belt and Road" initiative deeply in a thorough and pragmatic way. In his keynote speech delivered in a video at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping once again stressed that "the Belt and Road" is a sunny road for all participants to progress, rather than a private road for one side. Since "the Belt and Road" initiative was put forward, China and Timor-Leste have adhered to the concept of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, strengthened policy communication, promoted strategic alignment, carried out practical cooperation and gave full play to their respective advantages to promote the joint construction of "the Belt and Road". The leaders of Timor-Leste successfully attended "the Belt and Road" Forum meetings for International Cooperation held in Beijing, and signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese government during the first Forum in 2017 to jointly promote "the Belt and Road" initiative. The "One Network", "One Road" and "One Port" projects undertaken by Chinese enterprises in Timor-Leste are eye-catching: the state grid project greatly relieves the severe power shortage and the Suai Expressway becomes the first modern highway in Timor-Leste. The Tibar Port project, which is being accelerated, will become the first modern international container terminal in Timor-Leste after its completion. In October 2019, under the invitation of the Ministry of Health of Timor-Leste and the WHO Office in Timor-Leste, experts from Macao Ren Bojue General Hospital went to Timor-Leste to carry out a medical institution matching program. By strengthening the training of doctors and assisting in establishing an emergency medical team, the experts helped the country further enhance emergency response capacity and level.


Sharing a common destiny and strengthening cooperation in the fight against the epidemic to overcome suffering together. Since last year, the COVID-19 epidemic has spread around the world, and human being has experienced the worst pandemic of infectious diseases in a century, posing a huge threat to the life safety and health of people in all countries. In the face of the epidemic, China and Timor-Leste have been supporting and assisting each other through strengthening cooperation in fighting the epidemic. In response to the request of Timor-Leste, China was the first country to send a chartered plane to Timor-Leste to provide large quantities of medical supplies. At present, China has continuously donated 12 batches of medical supplies to the Timor-Leste. Recently, the Chinese government has decided to donate 100,000 doses of China vaccines to actively implement President Xi Jinping's important declaration of making China's COVID-19 vaccines as a global public product. In addition, the secretariat of Macao Forum, together with the association of Chinese enterprises in Macao, promptly donated anti-epidemic supplies worthing $20,000 to Timor-Leste. All of these fully demonstrate the profound friendship between China and Timor-Leste to share destiny and overcome suffering together.


In the 22 years since its return to China, Macao has achieved better development while continuously integrating into the overall development of the country. Its great achievements in economic and social development and external economic and trade cooperation fully prove that the "one country, two systems" policy is totally feasible, realizable and popular. The further promotion of the construction of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which deepens mutually beneficial cooperation among the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, has brought a new major development opportunity to Macao. At present, China is striving to build a new pattern of development in which the domestic circulation is the main body and the domestic and international circulations reinforce each other. At the same time, it is committed to promoting the construction of a new system for an open economy at a higher level. Timor-Leste is an important country along "the Belt and Road". We are willing to work together with Timor-Leste to further play a bridge and link role of Macao and Macao Forum on the basis of consolidating the original good cooperation among the Portuguese-speaking countries and regions. We will continuously expand cooperation fields and upgrade cooperation levels, jointly promote the economic and trade cooperation between China and Timor-Leste to open up new prospects, achieve new developments and reach a new level, as well as present an outstanding performance to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.

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