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Making the Case: U.S. LATINO AND Latin American Studies in China Melissa A Fitch University of Arizona, Chinese University of Hong Kong. OR Why you all, as students at the University of Macau, are the only ones uniquely positioned to become global leaders in the future.

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Making the Case:U.S. LATINO AND Latin American Studies in ChinaMelissa A FitchUniversity of Arizona,Chinese University of Hong Kong



  • Why you all, as students at the University of Macau, are the only ones uniquely positioned to become global leaders in the future.
  • (You are going to be unstoppable!)

Macau has the 4th lowest jobless rate in the world. Macau Daily Times February 1, 2012

  • Macau had 28 million visitors in 2011, up 12.2% from 2010. The Hong Kong Standard. January 11, 2012
  • The Macau Tourism Office is putting together a comprehensive plan to promote Macau as a “World Center of Tourism and Leisure.” (in other words, it is not just a center of gambling)
  • Macau just held its first Literary Festival January 29 to February 4 which brought together writers, filmmakers, artists and musicians from the Portuguese-speaking world and showcased Macau as a cultural crossroads.

TRADE BETWEEN ChinA AND THE Eight PORTUGUESE-SPEAKING WORLD in 2011 rose 28.23 % to reach U.S. $117.23 billion. (China Customs, February 2012)

Macau is the Bridge between China and the Lusophone world!

the brazilian miracle
ThE Brazilian “Miracle”
  • The Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) released latest figures in December of 2011, showing that Brazil surpassed Britain to become the world’s sixth largest economy. According to Brazil’s finance minister, the country will overtake France by 2015, to become 5th. Unemployment in Brazil fell to a record low of 5.2% in November, 2011 according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.
  • China became Brazil’s largest trading partner in 2009.
55 of brazilians are now middle class
55% of Brazilians are now Middle Class:
  • This population:
  • requires better health, educational and social services;
  • will lead to a surge of growth in international tourism;
  • has created an enormous market for Chinese goods.

Moreover…currently there is a building boom in Brazil as preparations are underway for the World Cup 2014 and the 2016 Olympics. Not only construction workers, but also engineers and architects and other highly skilled professionals are needed. The number of Portuguese registered at Consulates in Brazil jumped by 60,000 between 2009 and 2010.

that said
That said….
  • The World Bank in a 2008 report concluded that “unfortunately, in an era of global competition, the current state of education in Brazil means it is likely to fall behind other developing economies in the search for new investment and economic growth opportunities.” The New York Times“Educational Gaps Limit Brazil’s Reach”. September 4, 2010.
  • More than 22 percent of the roughly 25 million workers available to join Brazil’s workforce this year were not considered qualified to met the demands of the labor market, according to a government report in March. Tens of thousands of jobs went unclaimed because there were not enough qualified professionals to take them. (ibid)
  • Education is the big disadvantage for Brazil when compared to the other emerging economies of China, India and Russia.
meanwhile in lusophone africa
MeanwhilE, in Lusophone Africa..
  • According to the BBC, thousands of young unemployed professionals are escaping Portugal’s economic crisis by finding jobs in former colonies such as Brazil , Angola and Mozambique. These are skilled and highly educated. The country’s former colonies are growing at a dizzyingly high rates.
  • In 2006, only 156 Angolan visas were issued to Portuguese. In 2010 it was 23, 787.
  • Today there are 3,000 Portuguese companies in Angola. Angola is developing very fast and it needs skilled people to build the infrastructure.
  • “A civil engineer earning 900 Euros a month in Portugal can earn four times that amount in Angola.” (Ash)

President Armando Guebuzavisits China, August 11, 2011


According to several sources, the Macau government is currently facing a lack of Portuguese/Chinese translators and interpreters. They have not been able to fill vacancies in a program for translation and interpretation.

  • To meet the demand for translators and interpreters between Mandarin and Portuguese, the Macau government is opening up a new Master’s degree in Portuguese/Chinese translation in cooperation with the European Union.
  • The University of Macau already has a Master’s program in Translation and Interpretation, as well as a doctoral program.
  • Macau Daily Times January 13, 2012
and in brazil
And in Brazil…
  • A survey of 500 Brazilian executives working for Chinese, North American and European companies recently conducted by the Michael Page International recruitment firm for the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo found that 42 percent of Brazilian executives working for Chinese companies left their jobs within a year, a 68 percent higher turnover rate than found in the other firms studied.
  • Brazilian workers complain that their Chinese employers don't understand the country's culture of developing personal relationships among co-workers. Brazilians also bristle against a centralized office hierarchy that puts little trust in local executives.
  • "The cultural misunderstandings are going to frustrate the development of Chinese business in Brazil," said Marcelo de Lucca, director of Michael Page's Brazil operations. "Multinational companies, when they arrive in Brazil or any country, have to adapt to the local culture”
  • Global accounting firm KPMG, whose specialists help Chinese companies get started in Brazil, says that about 30 of China's big state-run companies with annual revenues above $1 billion are now in the country, more than three times the number five years ago. (Chang, “Culture Clash”)

Who can help solve these problems with global cultural misunderstanding between Asia, Africa and Latin America?

  • Who will have the educational credentials to serve as linguistic and/or cultural translators?
  • Who can fill these job vacancies for skilled, multilingual, multicultural, workers?
  • Who, (oh who) can help???
  • YOU!!!!
the 10 most widely spoken languages in the world ethnologue 2009
The 10 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World Ethnologue 2009
  • 1. Chinese (31)
  • 1,213,000,000
  • 2. Spanish (44)
  • 329,000,000
  • 3. English (112)
  • 328,000,000
  • 4. Arabic (57)
  • 221,000,000
  • 5. Hindi (20)
  • 182,000,000
  • 6. Bengali (10)
  • 181,000,000
  • 7. Portuguese (37)
  • 178,000,000
  • 8. Russian (33)
  • 144,000,000
  • 9. Japanese (25)
  • 122,000,000
  • 10. German (43)
  • 90,300,000

You already know the most widely spoken language in the world, Mandarin, and you already know English (number 3), but because you speak Portuguese (number 7), you already know a lot more than you think of number 2, Spanish!!


Communication works because Spanish and Portuguese share around 80% of their vocabulary, and most of the same grammatical structures, and things like the endings on nouns and verbs. Where communication breaks down, it's often because of differences in pronunciation or local slang terms.

  • Listen:
  • Santiago é a capital do Chile. (Portuguese)
  • Santiago es la capital de Chile. (Spanish)

A study found that educated native speakers of Spanish with no previous exposure to Portuguese could understand as much as 95% of an academic text written solely in Portuguese.

  • Like Spanish, Portuguese came from the colloquial Latin spoken by the Romans when they were on the Iberian Peninsula.

With Chinese, English, Portuguese and SPANISH, U of Macau students WILL potentially BE able to speak with 2,048,000,000 of the people in the world, almost 30%!


But why should you make the effort to speak Spanish and learn more about the Ibero-American world?


In the last decade, business between China and Latin America has multiplied TWELVE times to reach $140 billion dollars.

  • China is expanding its technology and needs minerals and oil.
  • Latin America has grown at 5.5 % since 2003, and possesses 15% of the oil reserves in the world, 25% of the agricultural land, 30% of the world water, and 40% of the world’s reserves in gold and copper.
  • The middle classes of these countries (particularly in Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Chile) are demanding more things and better services. Meanwhile, the growing Chinese middle class is expected to be the largest group of international tourists by 2015 (100,000,000). Many will go to Latin America.In China the number those with an annual disposable income above US $10,000 will almost quadruple from 57.1 million in 2010 to 222 million households by 2020. (Europmonitor).
  • China recognizes that it must look beyond raw material to expand ties to Latin America based on manufacturing, automotive, electronics, tourism and education.
in short
In short…
  • China is expanding its role in Latin America and is in desperate need of experts.
  • Latin America is expanding its role in China and is in desperate need of experts.

By 2020 there will be a shift in the economic world order. China will become the world’s largest economy in 2017 and there will be more emerging economies in the top ten, including India, Russia, Brazil and Mexico (BRIC and M). (analysis from Euromonitor International).

  • The rise in importance of emerging economies in Latin America and Africa will have implications for global consumption, investment and environment.
  • Macau is positioned to be at the center of the this new global order.

A brief overview of China’s increasing interest in Latin America:

  • In 1990, Chinese President Yang Shang kun visited five countries in Latin America. His trip was the first of an increasing number of high-level missions that laid the foundation for what he described as “a new international political and economic order” (McCarthy, 2008).
  • Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited in 1993and 1997, but the visits increased dramatically in the first decade of the 2000s:

This increasing cooperation has also led to a series of business summits between China and Latin America since 2007. These include:

  • 2007 Santiago, Chile,
  • 2008 China (Harbin),
  • 2009 Bogotá, Colombia,
  • 2010 China (Chengdu),
  • 2011 Lima, Peru,
  • 2012 China, (Hangzhou)

The “Documentosobre la política de China haciaAméricaLatina y el Caribe,” published by the Chinese government in November of 2008, stressed the need to invest in infrastructure and foment business, scientific and educational cooperation between the regions to guarantee political stability, increase well-being and assure economic growth.

  • Chinese President Hu Jintao called for a new era of Chinese cooperation with Latin America saying that the world’s biggest developing country and the large developing region were a “perfect fit.”
  • “On behalf of the Chinese government and people I would like to express that China is willing to work together with South American and Caribbean countries toward an equal, mutually beneficial, total cooperative partnership.”
  • While interest in studying China is growing in Latin America, there is still a very low level of understanding among the region’s peoples and governments.
  • Latin America’s China or Chinese-focused programs are very limited.
  • China’s knowledge of L.A. is also very limited. Think tanks on history, economy, politics, policies and foreign relations exist, however, in total, it is estimated that there are only about 50 scholars /experts in China on Latin America. Latin American studies programs are very limited, usually part of History Departments in Peking, Nankai (in Tianjin), Fudan (in Shanghai), Brand new programs have developed in Sichuan Foreign Studies University, Zhejiang Foreign Studies University and the Southwest University of Science and Technology, though most focused on language study.
  • Everyone realizes that the need for experts is great, in order to catch up to the political and economic relationships that have been forged. (Myers)

As China’s role in L.A. expands, countries are in desperate need of China experts and Chinese speakers to develop trade ties, promote investment, negotiate effectively, challenge counter-productive stereotypes, and encourage multifaceted bilateral relationships with Latin American businesses that have little understanding of Chinese culture, business practices, or commercial regulations, and who find operation in China daunting. The same is the case for Chinese firms in Latin America. (Myers)

  • On December 2, 2011, Chinese President Hu Jintao was the first leader to send a message to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Chilean President Sebastian Piñerato congratulate the founding of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a block of 33 countries that excludes the U.S. and Canada.
  • Hu said that the establishment of the community will make important contributions to unity and coordination in the region as well as joint efforts between China and Latin America to counter global challenges.
  • China and Latin America are geographically apart, but their peoples enjoy traditional friendship, Hu said. In the 21st century, relations between China and Latin America have seen all-round and fast development with the expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation, Hu said.
  • China has always treated its relations with Latin America from a strategic perspective and China is willing to work with CELAC and other countries in the region to build and develop a comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development through the strengthening of dialogue, communication and cooperation, said Hu.

Argentine president Cristina Kirchner with Chinese President Hu Jintao

In Beijing, July 2010


Chinese President Hu Jintao shakes hands with visiting Chilean President SebastiánPiñera during their meeting in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 16, 2010.


Chinese President Hu Jintao in a meeting with the Mexican delegation in Beijing, July 11, 2008.


Xi Jinping, Hu Jintao’s heir apparent in the Communist Party of China, in Feb 2009, in Mexico. He made a trip that year to Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, and Venezuela. In 2011, he visited Chile, Cuba and Uruguay.

the bottom line
The Bottom line…
  • Every university in Hong Kong and China boasts students that are at least bilingual in Mandarin and English. UM could be the only university that will be able to boast graduates with a command of Mandarin, English, Portuguese and Spanish, four of the most spoken languages in the world, as well as a very advanced knowledge of tourism, making UM graduates in very high demandfor all future China-Latin America relations(and also China-Africa!).


  • STUDY Portuguese (The University of Macau has the largest Portuguese program in Asia)
  • GET a BA in Portuguese Studies.
  • Pursue a Masters in Portuguese Language and Culture, a Masters in Translation, and/or Doctoral programs in Linguistics, and in Literary and Translation Studies at UM.
  • STUDY SPANISH! (get the new minor!)
  • SPEND A SEMESTER OR YEAR STUDYING IN BRAZIL AND/OR AFRICA (and get to know the exchange students from these regions who are here on campus at UM)
  • VOLUNTEER FOR THE BRAZILIAN WORLD CUP OR OLYMPICS (they will need people fluent in Portuguese, Chinese and English!)

A final story

  • (from the Hidden Dreams Tango Café in Beijing)
brigad sima aos estudantes da universidade de macau gracias grazie merci shokran teshekular

‘Brigadísimaaosestudantes da universidade de Macau謝謝你! Gracias! Grazie! Merci! Shokran! Teshekular!

  • Ash, Lucy. “Portugal’s Jobless Graduates Flee to Africa and Brazil” BBC September 1, 2011.
  • Barrionuevo, A., & Romero, S. (2009, April 15). “Deals Help China Expand Sway in Latin America”. The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011, from
  • Branigan, T. (2010, February 14). “China goes on the rails to rival Panama Canal”. The Guardian. Retrieved March 12, 2011, from Economist. (2009, August). “The Dragon in the Backyard”. The Economist, August (Week 3), pp. 12-14.
  • Carroll, Rory. “China Pours its Wealth into Latin America” The Observer, p 36. Guardian. April 18, 2010.
  • Cerna, Michael. “China’sGrowingPresence in LatinAmerica: Implicationsfor U.S. AndChinesePresence in theRegion. China Currents. 10.1 (2011). Atlanta, Georgia; China Research Center A CenterforCollaborativeResearch and EducationonGreaterChina.
  • Chang, Jack. “Culture Clash Complicates China’s Brazil Push” Associated Press, May 28, 2011.
  • Ellis, Evan. China in Latin America: The Whats and Wherefores. Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner, 2009.
  • Gallagher, K. (2010, October 2). “The Fragile bit of BRIC”. The Guardian. Retrieved March 13, 2011, from argentina
  • Global Intelligence Report. (2011, March 10). “China and Brazil Leading Energy Infrastructure Investments in Latin America”. Retrieved March 12, 2011, from
  • Grant, W. (2009, September 17). “China in Huge Venezuela Oil Deal”. BBC News. Retrieved March 13, 2011, from

Hearn, Adrian and José Luis Leon-Manriquez’s. China Engages Latin America: Tracing the Trajectory. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011.

  • Hornbeck, J. F. (2011). “U.S.-Latin America Trade: Recent Trends and Policy Issues”. Congressional Research Service Report for Congress.
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  • MercoPress. (2011, April 14). “BRICS calls for new global monetary system with less reliance on the dollar”. MercoPress. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from: less-reliance-on-the-dollar
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Myers, Margaret. China/Chinese Studies in Latin America China dn Latin America: The Inter-American Dialogue. December 20, 2011.

  • Painter, J. (2008, November 21). “China Deepens Latin America Ties”. BBC News. Retrieved
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