The Project of Cultivating Chinese-Portuguese Bilingual Legal Professionals
For historical reasons, laws in Macao were originated from Portuguese laws. According to the Basic Law of Macao Special Administrative Region, after the exercise of sovereignty over Macao was returned to China on 20 December 1999, Macao maintains its previous legal system. For many years before 1999, Macao’s laws were in Portuguese only. Since 1991, the Macao Portuguese government started to translate these laws in Chinese, but the process was slow. After Macao’s return to China, the Macao SAR government stepped up and improved Chinese translation of Macanese laws. This does not change the fact that legislation and trial in Macao are still conducted in Portuguese. It is worth noting that although Chinese and Portuguese are both the official languages of Macao, Portuguese was never popularized in Macao during more than 400 years of Portuguese colonial rule. Therefore, there is such a phenomenon in Macao that a vast majority of Macanese cannot understand their own Portuguese version of laws. Now, all laws of Macao have both Chinese and Portuguese versions. However, Macao’s codes and laws were translated into Chinese in such a rigid way that the Chinese version is not easily understandable and some translation mistakes exist. This poses a big challenge to the popularization and research of laws in Macao.
In order to prepare for a successful transfer of the exercise of sovereignty in 1999, the Macao Portuguese government started to cultivate Chinese-Portuguese bilinguals since 1992. However, it did not satisfy the needs of the administration, legislation and justice of Macao Special Administrative Region in terms of both quality and quantity of bilinguals. Especially, the government is in desperate need of bilingual legal professionals and outstanding translators. If the laws of Macao remain unchanged by and large, the present Macao government not only needs to make a number of new laws in response to Macao’s rapid economic development, but also translate and revise existing laws. At the same time, systematic research on Macao’s laws has not been carried out yet. All the work desperately needs a number of legal professionals who master Chinese and Portuguese and are familiar with laws of Macao and Portugal.
After the establishment of Macao Special Administrative Region, the Macao government strived to make Macao a trade and service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. Thus, Macao is in desperate need of Chinese-Portuguese bilinguals, especially bilingual legal professionals. Thanks to much closer diplomatic and business relationships and the “go global” aspiration of Chinese enterprises, Chinese enterprises’ investment in Portuguese-speaking countries has soared in recent years. These enterprises also are badly in need of Chinese-Portuguese bilinguals.
In this context, our charity association has selected outstanding law graduates from Chinese excellent universities, such as Peking University and Zhejiang University. These graduates are supported to learn Portuguese in Portugal and learn laws in Macao. Up to now, it has already cultivated more than 40 Chinese-Portuguese bilingual legal professionals who have mastered both Portuguese and laws. A dozen of them have already started their legal career.