The doors of the City Hall, decorated with traditional lanterns, opened once again for the Chinese community in Portugal to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. 2024 is the year of the Dragon, the fifth of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, a symbol of wealth and prosperity, always represented in red.
For this reason, a red scarf was placed around the necks of all guests. The lobby of the City Hall was quickly filled up for the ceremony, which was attended by the mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, and the ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Portugal, Zhao Bentang.
The delegation travelled to Praça do General Humberto Delgado where the Dragon Dance show was performed by the She-Si School, based in the city, as well as three others who took part in the kung-fu demonstration (Lou Hau School, Sheng Kung Hui Choi Kou School and the Farmers' Sons and Brothers Association School).
Chinese community in Porto perfectly integrated
'The Municipality of Porto is fully aware of the historical significance of the relationship between Portugal and China. Likewise, we are aware of the social, economic and cultural importance of the Chinese community in the city', the Mayor emphasised during the formal sitting, which took place in the municipality's Main Hall.
Hosting the ceremony for the second consecutive year, Rui Moreira emphasised 'the current multiculturalism' of the city, of which the Chinese community is an example, 'because it enriches the city with its cultural identity and the diversity of its traditions, arts, customs and knowledge'.
'Chinese immigrants and their descendants are perfectly integrated in our city. But there is still room for a greater dissemination of Chinese culture among the people of Porto, and for a better knowledge of Portuguese culture by Chinese immigrants', he added.
Chinese Embassy in Portugal receives Ricardo Jorge Merit Award
Rui Moreira recalled also all the support given by China during the Covid-19 pandemic, donating medical equipment, as well as the response of the Chinese community itself, 'in a clear demonstration of their civic sense and their integration in our society'.
As a way of paying tribute to the people and organisations that provided support during the pandemic, in December the Municipality of Porto awarded them the Ricardo Jorge Merit Award. At the time, the Chinese Embassy could not be represented at the ceremony. That's why, this Friday, the Chinese ambassador in Portugal, Zhao Bentang, received the award.
The diplomat appreciated the gesture, acknowledging that the Municipality of Porto has been a great ally for the entire Chinese community living in Greater Porto. 'I thank you [addressing the mayor] for your great support and help, which reflects the great importance and friendship that the mayor and the municipality, as well as all the people of Porto, give to Chinese-Portuguese relations', Zhao Bentang remarked.
Support for five social solidarity organisations in the city
Also speaking at the formal sitting were the celebrations coordinator, YPing Chow, the representative of the Chinese Associations in Portugal, Wang Xiao Wei, the president of the Portuguese-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, António Noronha, and the representative of the Macau government, Lúcia Santos. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the transfer of Macao's territory to Chinese administration, as well as the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Portugal.
The Year of the Dragon's celebrations also included the inauguration of the 'Mundo Bela' (Beautiful World) photo exhibition in the lobby of the City Hall, organised by the Portugal China Photographers Association, and a conference on the 45 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Chinese community also handed over donations to five of the city's social solidarity institutions, at the suggestion of the Social Cohesion Department: Ajudaris – Associação de Solidariedade Social, Associação CAIS, Casa de Lordelo da Associação das Obras Sociais de S. Vicente de Paulo, APPC – Associação do Porto de Paralisia Cerebral e Centro Juvenil de Campanhã - Seminário dos Meninos Desamparados.