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Portuguese-speaking countries

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inging and dancing is an important part of São Tomé and Príncipe’s culture. The pretty African island nation, which sits in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Gabon, has a long history of musically inspiring performances that tell stories and move audiences. However, singing in Chinese is hardly an everyday occurrence. It is a unique experience then when a group of two dozen teenagers break into traditional Chinese songs on 10 July, at the official inauguration of São Tomé’s Confucius Institute – just hours after the two-day 14th Entrepreneurs Meeting for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries has ended. An audience – which includes the nation’s Prime Minister, Jorge Bom Jesus, as well as Chinese ambassador, Wang Wei – stands mesmerised by the young vocalists before they witness performances by Chinese singers and martial arts groups, as well as a rendition of Hubei province’s Dance of the Lions. Unique it may be to see this performance, however it may not be an out-of-place sight for long as relations between São Tomé and Príncipe – which gained independence in 1975 – strengthen. In fact, these performances highlight how important the links that are being forged between the island nation and China are becoming, particularly since December 2016, when diplomatic relations were re-established between the two after almost 20 years following the archipelago’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The teenagers form the first class of locals who are learning the Chinese language at the Confucius Institute. They have been studying since April and another class is to start in the next few months. It serves as a great parallel to the fortunes of the country as a whole – from some tough times and uncertainty, a new dawn with exciting new opportunities may just be beginning.

Investment is key The Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe – the smallest Portuguese-speaking country in the world – has experienced plenty of uncertainties over past decades, including political and economic problems. The nation, which has a population of around 200,000 people spread across 1,001 square kilometres, was labelled as having a ‘fragile economy’ by The World Bank earlier this year. It said the developing island state was ‘highly vulnerable to exogenous shocks’. All this has meant that attracting foreign investment has become vital. Agriculture and tourism are hugely important to the nation’s economy – and that includes the production of cocoa and, thus, chocolate. In the early 1900s, the ‘Chocolate Islands’ were the biggest producer of the sweet stuff in the world and there’s still a huge focus on the industry today. So, the chance for foreign private bodies to invest in the industry, as well as other sectors like tourism, is at the heart of the Entrepreneurs Meeting. The government and the São Tomé Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APCI) have been giving the two-day event on 8 and 9 July the utmost priority.

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Profile for Macaulink

Macao Magazine September 2019  

We have found alarming figures on plastic waste over the course of putting together this issue: 160,000 plastic bags are used every second a...

Macao Magazine September 2019  

We have found alarming figures on plastic waste over the course of putting together this issue: 160,000 plastic bags are used every second a...