President Xi Jinping has vowed to fully support Macao to better play to its strengths in terms of implementing the “One Country, Two Systems” principle within the Special Administrative Region. The president was speaking in Beijing, before Christmas, at a meeting with Macao Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng held at Yingtai – within the Zhongnanhai leadership compound.
There, President Xi congratulated Macao’s chief executive for having “led the government in maintaining stable governance and in adopting practical efforts to maintain the city’s overall stability.”
Ho Iat Seng had travelled to the capital to report on the current situation in Macao, and on how his government “would enable Macao to make further contributions in building China into a great modern socialist country.”
During the meeting, Xi acknowledged Ho’s government’s dedicated effort to study, promote, and implement the president’s report to 20th CPC National Congress, which was held in October.
In response, Ho said that the path outlined by Xi at the National Congress “had encouraged the Macao public to share the pride felt at the country’s development and faith in the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.” He noted that “Macao people’s sense of patriotism and confidence about being Chinese had also been strengthened.”
Xi also commended Ho for Macao’s amendments to its Law on Safeguarding National Security; his prudent handling of the revision of the gaming laws and regulations; how the public tender and contract-signing for Macao’s new gaming concessions played out; and for the pragmatic advances the city had made with regards to developments in the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone, on Hengqin Island.
On the subject of Covid-19, Ho told Xi that recurring outbreaks had “battered Macao’s economy, the livelihoods of its people and local employment, creating unprecedented pressure on Macao’s macroeconomic environment.”
“In the face of such a complex situation, the government had taken swift measures to curb epidemic conditions, easing the downward pressure on the local economy, and relieving hardship related to people’s livelihoods,” he said. “With the strong support of the central government, and from the mainland provinces and cities, Macao had seen gradual recovery of its socioeconomic situation, with fresh progress attained in various sectors.”
Looking ahead at 2023, the chief executive told Xi that his government would make good use of the policies and measures introduced by the central government in support of Macao’s development. Ho said his efforts would be focused on facilitating the city’s economic recovery; actively improving people’s livelihoods; solving deep-rooted problems relating to social development; expediting economic diversification; and further developing the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone.
Ho also promised the president that there would be “concerted effort to translate the plans of the CPC’s 20th National Congress into actual deeds, push forward development of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle with Macao characteristics, and make fresh contributions to the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation through the Chinese path to modernisation.”
Premier Li Keqiang praises the Macao’s government’s work
During Ho’s trip to Beijing, he also met with the Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang at the Ziguang Pavilion – another venue within the Zhongnanhai leadership compound. Li praised the Macao government’s work over the past year. He noted that efforts to stabilise the economy, ensure employment, and secure benefits for Macao people “helped maintain Macao’s good momentum in terms of steady development.”
Li told Ho that the central government would “continue to comprehensively, accurately, and unwaveringly adhere” to the principles of “One Country, Two Systems” and “Macao people governing Macao”. He also guaranteed “a high degree of autonomy for the city.”
“The central government will continue to enhance the mechanisms and systems relating to Macao and the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, and to the Basic Law and fully support the law-based administration applied by the chief executive and the government,” the premier added.
Li reiterated Xi and Ho’s aims for Macao’s better integration into China’s overall national development, a successful Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone, Macao’s economic diversification and long-term stability, and the enhanced well-being of Macao people.
During their meeting, Ho told the premier that Macao’s government had realised its policy aims, maintained social stability, and made fresh progress across various sectors during 2022 – in spite of a series of Covid-19 outbreaks that seriously impacted the city. “These achievements were indivisible from the strong support given by the central government, and the united effort made within the community,” he said.
“The Macao government spared no effort in coordinating epidemic control and prevention work, while boosting economic recovery, with a view to foster adequate economic diversification,” Ho added.
Ho told Li that Macao devoted full efforts to major national strategies, including the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as strategies centred around Macao, such as “One Centre, One Platform, One Base”.
At the end of the meeting, Ho reaffirmed that “Macao will spare no effort in steadfastly safeguarding the country’s sovereignty, security, and development interests … in order to advance the practise of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle with Macao characteristics.”