In March, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu visited Macao for the first time since his nomination in May 2022. Lee met with Macao Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng twice within the space of that week – the first meeting was held in Hong Kong – and the two leaders reaffirmed their desire for strong, mutually beneficial cooperation between the Special Administrative Regions (SARs).
Lee said that travel between Hong Kong and Macao had been “vigorous” since normal travel fully resumed on 6 February, demonstrating the close ties between the two populations. While in Macao, Lee toured the city’s latest developments in tourism and exhibition facilities. He noted that now was the “perfect time” to collaborate on tourism ventures, with each SAR’s borders fully open in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lee also welcomed the Macao Government Tourism Office’s invitation to join a large-scale delegation – formed by members of the Hong Kong tourism sector – to visit Macao.
In both meetings, the leaders spoke about the need to promote multi-destination tourism within the Greater Bay Area (GBA). They described a joint vision for creating a world-class destination for leisure, in line with what’s set out in China’s Culture and Tourism Development Plan for the GBA. Lee linked the SARs’ joint promotion of regional development to the broader wellbeing of the nation.
Lee said that Hong Kong and Macao, with their strong international connectivity, serve as a bridge between the mainland and the rest of the world. He said that both contributed to and benefited from China’s prosperous development.
Ho agreed. “As Hong Kong and Macao are parts of the GBA – which also includes nine cities in Guangdong Province – the two SARs should further strengthen cooperation, and step up their contributions toward the high-quality development of the area, as well as the process of integration into the overall national development,” he said.
Ho told Lee he was confident Macao’s economy will recover, thanks to support from the Central People’s Government, Hong Kong, and mainland provinces and cities. He requested that the SARs deepen coordination in the fields of scientific and technological innovation, finance, traditional Chinese medicine, culture and sporting events.
Macao’s leader also briefed Lee how the Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin was tracking. He said that the cooperation zone would welcome investments from Hong Kong, and that his government would provide the necessary policy support.
According to a Macao Government Information Bureau statement, Ho and Lee noted that – while the SARs’ legal systems are different – they should strengthen communication around their respective legal frameworks and enforcement mechanisms in order to safeguard national security.
Overall, both leaders agreed that Macao and Hong Kong’s cooperation is key to a bright, post-covid future.