Hello, my name is José Augusto Duarte, I am the Portuguese Ambassador, and I am very grateful that you invited me today to present to you my country.
I am from Portugal, Portugal is quite well-known for its beautiful landscapes, we have a huge variety of landscapes, long beaches to the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, we have islands with beautiful natural landscapes, and wild landscapes in the sea and in the countryside. We have wonderful cities like Lisbon, Oporto, or the romantic place like Sintra with its beautiful Pena Castle. And we have also the reputation of being one of the best kitchens in the world with culinary traditions that are quite famous around the world. Chinese people for example love to go Portugal to eat the fish, the good Atlantic fish we have over there, and to also have the taste of the shellfish rice that all the Chinese love to try in my home country. But today, I am not going to speak about neither the culinary traditions, nor the landscapes. Today I am going to speak about literature and music in my country.
Portugal and China enjoy friendly and warm relationship for more than 500 years. The Portuguese arrived in the coasts of Guangzhou in 1513, and since then, the Portuguese and the Chinese have enjoyed always peaceful and quite mutual understanding in the relationship, which is quite amazing in history to have such a long tradition of mutual understanding and dialogue for two nations in the world. But for that, the most important thing is to understand each other, and to understand each other we ought to know each other, nothing better to know each other then reading the scripts and the writers of each country, can be poets, can be writers, can be philosophers, can be whatever, but the different ways of expression in literature is the best way also for another country to learn more another society. And to learn more is to appreciate more.
We have some of the best writers around the world in different styles, classical styles like the romantic period or the realistic period in the 19th century, and we have also wonderful poets that is part of our culture. Like in China, in Portugal we consider ourselves a country of poets a country of poetry, and I challenge also my Chinese friends to discover a bit more about the Portuguese expressions in literature around the many Portuguese books translated and published in China.
Another expression that can be also a good way to discover my home country is not through reading, but through listening, listening to the music and the musicality, and expressions that my country and my people can do. When we speak about music and we speak about Portugal, we generally think immediately about Fado. Fado is a cultural heritage by UNESCO in the world and is considered one of the most expressive musical traditions of Portugal. The guitar, the singer, a powerful voice, and a table around which people listen, it is quite and intimate cry of nostalgic absence of someone that we love or that we miss, it’s quite a fatalist way that some part of the Portuguese culture tends to express. But we are not only just Fado, we can also be very well-known by the baroque traditions in our music. It was the Portuguese, by the way, that introduced in China the baroque classical European music. It was a Portuguese missionary that worked with emperor KangXi in the forbidden city for more that 36 years, that introduced this taste for the Chinese the classical European music, it was the Portuguese that introduced that. We have wonderful traditions in this we have many good singers and many good composers that ought to be discovered. But only just in the classical and the Fado, we have also other expressions of musical traditions in Portugal, can be in the Pop Rock, can be in the Jazz or can be, for example, in the new waves and some immigrants or some communities in Portugal, Portuguese of different origins that contribute with different sounds from around the world to enrich our musical traditions and make a good contribution for the enrichment of our culture all together.
So, my dear Chinese friends, either through landscapes, or culinary traditions -that now in times of COVID-19 we don’t have the opportunity to see-but through literature, or through music in these times of COVID-19 even without leaving China you can discover my country. You can discover Portugal through reading to books or through listening to music. Thank you very much, enjoy you books enjoy your music.