Macao is an historical meeting point.
In the 1550s, the Portuguese landed in Macao after crossing half the world. Here, one of the passengers wrote an epic poem dedicated to the first world empire – we refer to Luís de Camoes and his work The Lusiads. Over three decades later, in 1591, another poet and playwright, Tang Xianzu, came to Macao and wrote innovative stories in his work The Peony Pavilion, which became one of the greatest classics of Chinese theatre, and the first “play” associated with Macao.
Tang Xianzu also recorded Macao's stories in poems. In one of his poems he describes a foreign girl that he admired: “In the early morning, the roses were wet with dew. An enchanting 15-year-old girl, whose dress fluttered in the gentle breeze, was like a beautiful moon over the end of the West sea, emanating a fragrant scent.” “The end of the West sea” refers certainly to the location of Portugal, equivalent to Camões' famous description in The Lusiads: “Where the land ends and the sea begins”.
Historically, this is an unfinished meeting. It was destiny that brought these two remarkable poets of the 16th century to Macao, where they completed their respective notable works of Chinese and Portuguese literature. Following the re-emergence of China after centuries of decline and ensuing Macao's impressive economic development, during the initial phase of the “Belt and Road” initiative, the establishment of the “Sino-Lusophone Cultural Exchange Centre” occurred naturally. Within the scope of this Centre, the “Encounter in Macao - Arts and Cultural Festival between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries” allows us to bring representative arts and cultures of the Portuguese-speaking countries established during the period of the Discoveries as well as from China, in order to establish related cooperation and exchange mechanisms, to connect historical backgrounds, to bring people together, to share the fruits of prosperity and to exchange the beauty of culture. In terms of cultural and artistic development, this unprecedented occasion is highly anticipated; from a perspective of building a community of shared future for mankind, it has an epoch-making significance.
The programme of the first edition of the “Encounter in Macao - Arts and Cultural Festival between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries” includes the China and Portuguese-speaking Countries Film Festival, the exhibition “Chapas Sínicas – Stories of Macao in Torre do Tombo” and lectures, the China and Portuguese-speaking Countries Gala Performance, the Cultural Forum between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries and the Annual Arts Exhibition between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries. The collection of Chapas Sínicas that has been successfully inscribed on the UNESCO's Memory of the World Register last year, includes official correspondence between the Chinese from the Qing dynasty and the Portuguese authorities in the past 200 years, reflecting social circumstances of the time and bearing witness to Macao's important role as an exchange centre between Chinese and Western civilizations and as the hub to the promotion of international trade and cultural exchange. Taking this epic “memory of the world” that spans ancient and modern times and links China and the West as a prelude to the Cultural and Arts Festival, it shows a profound historical source. In turn, the “Annual Arts Exhibition between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries” showcases contemporary artworks from China and eight Portuguese-speaking countries. The exhibition halls are distributed in various districts in Macao, bringing public artworks to the community and taking the spirit of the Cultural Exchanges Centre to all corners of the city.
The establishment of a cultural and arts exchange mechanism between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries led to a cultural gathering spanning four centuries and linking four continents, having thereby an extraordinary meaning. The 19th century English poet Matthew Arnold considered culture to be the ideal of human thought, defining it as “bright and wonderful” – culture is therefore bright because it is wonderful, and it is wonderful since it is bright. We believe that, by continuing cultural and arts exchanges based on a thorough development of “people-to-people bonds”, we will have brighter development and prospects, and will build together a more magnificent era.
Finally, on behalf of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region, I would like to express heartfelt thanks to the Minister of Culture and Tourism of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Luo Shugang, as well as to the Minister of Culture of the Portuguese Republic, Mr. Luís Filipe Castro Mendes, for their presence here today for this “Encounter in Macao - Arts and Cultural Festival between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries”. I would also like to thank the participating artists and the organization staff for their untiring efforts to offer us such a rich cultural and arts festival.
Macao is mainly a meeting point in progress.
The President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government
Mok Ian Ian