President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang expressed their support for Macao’s efforts to diversify the city’s economy and praised the local government for its Covid-19 control and prevention work during a visit to Beijing by Macao Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng in December 2021.
On his return, Chief Executive Ho said that President Xi and Premier Li had also highlighted the problem of Macao’s overdependence on a single industry [gaming] and that the central government would continue to fully support Macao’s diversification of its economy.
Stability and momentum
President Xi Jinping praised Chief Executive Ho’s governance of Macao, in particular his administration’s development strategy and the effective prevention and control of the Covid-19 pandemic by implementing the “dynamic zero-Covid” policy.
The president met Ho at the central government’s Zhongnanhai compound in Beijing, during which Ho reported on Macao’s current situation and the work of the Macao Special Administrative Region’s (MSAR) government.
President Xi underlined that Macao has been able to maintain stability and a strong development momentum despite the pandemic.
The president pointed out that Macao was also working hard to normalise cross-border travel between the mainland and Macao.
The pandemic had created tough challenges for the global economy, but also created a moment for reflection, Xi said.
He added that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Macao’s people had gained a clearer understanding of problems in the region’s existing economic structure, resulting in a deeper consideration of its future development.
Xi also pointed out that Macao’s economy had enjoyed a gradual recovery in 2021 and that the local government had assisted disadvantaged groups and small businesses.
The president highlighted the fact that Macao’s legal and executive mechanisms safeguarding national security had been upgraded, and that the 2021 Legislative Assembly elections had been held successfully, upholding the principle of “patriots governing Macao”.
The central government’s General Plan for the Development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin will offer a new path for Macao, furthering its integration into national development, President Xi said.
The central government will continue to support Macao accelerating its economic diversification, the leader said, adding that this approach implements the “One Country, Two Systems” principle with Macao characteristics.
“The central authorities fully acknowledge the work that Ho and the Macao SAR government have done,” President Xi said.
Meeting with Premier Li Keqiang
In a second Beijing meeting, Premier Li Keqiang expressed to Chief Executive Ho the central government’s appreciation of Ho and Macao’s work regarding economic development, supporting people’s wellbeing and its control of Covid-19.
The central government will continue to implement the policies of “One Country, Two Systems”, with “the people of Macao administering Macao”, and maintaining a high degree of autonomy for the region, Li said.
Li pledged to improve the region’s systems for enforcing the National Constitution and Macao SAR’s Basic Law. He said that the central government fully supports the chief executive in leading the Macao SAR government to administer the city based on the rule of law.
Li hoped that Macao would initiate coordination with national development strategies as well as participating in and advancing the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin Island.
Premier Li also hoped that Macao would continue its efforts to curb the pandemic and improve people’s livelihood. These efforts will lay a solid foundation for lasting prosperity and stability for the region, according to Li.
Chief Executive Ho expressed appreciation to Premier Li for the central government’s concern and support, adding that Macao would maintain effective control over the pandemic, ensure a stable economic recovery, and seize the opportunities offered by China’s national development.
This was Ho’s first official visit to Beijing since he became Macao’s chief executive in December 2019. In 2020, the annual visit to Beijing was postponed due to the coronavirus restrictions and the meetings with President Xi and Premier Li took place by video.
President Xi last visited Macao for Chief Executive Ho’s swearing-in ceremony in December 2019.