China’s Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) is actively integrating into the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) as the global development strategy has achieved important progress under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits since it was proposed 6 years ago.

Based on the invaluable legacy left by over 400 years of cultural integration between China and the west, as well as its unique geological advantages, Macao is seizing the opportunities brought by the BRI, and suit the initiative to its role of a world class tourism and leisure centre, a commerce and trade cooperation service platform between China and lusophone Countries, and a base for exchange and cooperation where Chinese culture is the mainstream and diverse cultures coexist.

Making full use of its unique location and distinctive industries, Macao serves as an intermediary.

While propelling multiple lusophone countries towards being participants of, contributors to and beneficiaries of the BRI, Macao has opened up broad development prospects for its own development.

Over half of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Macao hope to participate in the BRI construction via cooperation, according to a report issued by the Strategy Research Committee of the Macao Chamber of Commerce this year.

These enterprises also expect the Macao SAR government to launch more guiding policies to create more opportunities for them to expand overseas presence.

Last year, the Macao SAR government inked an arrangement with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on supporting Macao’s full participation in the Belt and Road construction.

This agreement has injected new vitality for Macao to take part in the global development strategy.

In April this year, the Bank of China Macau Branch issued 4.5 billion yuan in bonds for Belt and Road projects aiming to facilitate special financial products and services of Macao and serve the lusophone Countries.

“These countries, located in four continents, have a population of 260 million and cover an area larger than that of Europe,” said Li Guoqiang, Former Deputy Director of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He believes Macao plays an irreplaceable role in helping Chinese enterprises expand markets Latin America and Africa and in yuan clearing between China and these countries, as the SAR enjoys close connection with them and serves a bond for economic and trade exchanges.

Kwan Fung, Professor of the University of Macau, said tourism is an important pillar of Macao’s economy, and also a sector where the SAR sees the closest connection with the BRI.

The collision and integration between the cultures of southern Europe and southern China have generated unique historical and social features in Macao, which is one of the major reasons for the Historic Centre of Macao to have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, Kwan introduced.

By actively participating in the BRI construction, Macao will not only expand its tourism revenue and diversify the source of tourists, but also enhance mutual understanding among Belt and Road countries as a window for people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Besides, Macao is home to returned overseas Chinese from more than 60 Countries and Regions who have broad social relationships and are engaged in diverse Industries.

Lao Ngai Leong, Chairman of the Association of Returned Overseas Chinese Macau, believes such group has offered Macao and its Chinese community with unique advantages in people-to-people exchanges.

The large numbers of Chinese nationals who have returned from overseas to Macao have a great influence, and they can play an active role in facilitating the government’s economic, people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation with Southeast Asian Countries, Lao noted.

By actively participating in the BRI, the young people in Macao are also embracing greater prospects. In the past, the relatively simple economic structure of Macao limited their development space.

However, they now have broader platforms to fulfil their potential as the SAR’s high-end service sectors including accounting, legal services, management, information & translation are booming thanks to the initial progress made by the BRI Construction.

Jorge Valente, President of the Macanese Youth Association (AJM), believes that Macao’s advantages, including a multi-language environment, inclusiveness and exchanges of Chinese & Portuguese Cultures, similar judicial system with Portuguese speaking Countries, will enable the SAR’s young generation to achieve great success in the construction of the BRI.