Chinese investment should be seen long-term says ex-governor of Macau
Portugal’s last governor of Macau said last week that Chinese investment in Portugal was a direct result of Portugal’s fragile economy in recent years following bankruptcy and a €78Bn bailout from the IMF and ECB in 2011.
Vasco Rocha Vieira said that it was important that investments were made in Portugal, but said that the vast majority of investment that had been made in the country, namely Chinese investment, has come about as a result of “the fragile state that our economy was in” he told the news agency Lusa.
The former governor said that in order to survive the economic crisis that has forced Portugal to seek external financial help from the ‘troika’ of international lenders, “Portugal did not at that time have sufficient room for manoeuvre to also set out what it wanted in return as tradeoffs.
“The context of our fragility from an economic and financial point of view overshadowed many things” he said.
“At that time, the main reason and not the only one that led the country to negotiate these investments was to lower the debt, improve the deficit and improve what had been a difficult financial situation” he said adding that the objective had been necessary but one-off and short-term. Chinese investment, he said, should be seen in the long term.
Furthermore, the ex-governor of Macau said that Chinese investments in Portugal should also be understood as investments from the Chinese State.
“Most of the Chinese investment came from State companies. The State owned the capital and the Chinese State doesn’t make investments for the sake of it. It has an agenda” he said on the sidelines of the 20th anniversary of the handover of the administration of Macau to China, the anniversary of which is on 20 December.
“The Chinese State has a lot of goals, to learn from others, to succeed in key areas of interest for its development and for its presence in the world as an expanding economy, as is the case in energy, insurance, health and banking” he said.
Which is why, he said, that any of these investments had to be seen prudently and with caution and in such a way that there are tradeoffs so that Portugal’s interests were in line with Chinese interests?
“All countries have their goals and have to know how to defend their own objectives” said Rocha Vieira who is now on the advisory board of Portugal’s energy giant EDP where a Chinese state-owned company is a major shareholder.