Macao must not let its guard down in its Covid-19 prevention and control work, and must safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests, Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Macao Director Fu Ziying said in March.
Fu made the remarks during a meeting hosted by the Central People’s Government Liaison Office at its headquarters about this year’s “Two Sessions” – the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing.
NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members from Macao as well as other community leaders and local and mainland officials attended the meeting.
In addition to Fu, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng and Edmund Ho Hau Wah, Macao’s first chief executive and now a vice-chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, also addressed the meeting.
In his speech, Fu made three key points. Firstly, Macao’s civil society should deeply understand the historic achievements in the development of the nation and of Macao.
Secondly, Fu urged Macao to seize the major and important opportunities created by the nation’s overall development.
Thirdly, he urged Macao’s civil society to support the Chief Executive and his government in administering the city.
Director Fu Ziying also called for Macao’s civil society to fight words and actions that endanger national security.
Fu said that the Covid-19 pandemic is a clear reminder of the various problems in Macao’s economic structure, urging civil society to support the local government’s work in amending Macao’s gaming industry law.
The liaison chief also called for Hengqin Island to become a new platform for promoting the diversification of Macao’s economy with the development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin.
“Macao’s development is closely interrelated with national development,” he said, adding that a stable development in the nation’s economy will create favourable conditions for Macao’s socioeconomic development.
Patriots administering Macao
In his speech, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng stressed that Covid-19 prevention and control work is an essential prerequisite for Macao’s stable socioeconomic development.
He pledged that the local government will continue to learn from and sum up its experiences in Covid-19 prevention and control, and will not let its guard down in its Covid-19 work.
Ho Iat Seng raised four points for the local government following the recent completion of the “two sessions”.
Firstly, Ho Iat Seng pointed out, the concept of patriots administering Macao has been mentioned in the central government’s work report for the first time.
The Chief Executive pledged that the local government will continue to firmly implement the patriots administering Macao principle, according to which, he said, the local government will ensure that all the powers to administer Macao are firmly and solely in the hands of patriots.
The Chief Executive also said that the local government will adhere to its constitutional duty to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
Secondly, Ho Iat Seng said, the local government will persevere with its successful Covid-19 prevention and control work while promoting Macao’s socio-economic development.
Thirdly, the local government will continue to promote the development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin and to further Macao’s integration into the nation’s overall development, the chief executive said.
Fourthly, Ho Iat Seng guaranteed that his government will stick to its “original intention” of improving residents’ lives.
“The local government will continue with its various social welfare measures and strive to protect residents’ employment,” he said.
Ho also pledged that the government will strengthen its work on youth affairs, according to which the implementation of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle will have qualified successors and “proceed steadily and go far”.
Consequently, the Chief Executive said, the local government will cultivate a sense of belonging to the nation and developing international horizons among the younger generation.
Earning Civil Society’s Confidence
Edmund Ho Hau Wah acknowledged during his speech that Macao’s development is still facing difficulties and challenges resulting from the adverse economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that, he said, seemed “endless”.
Despite Macao’s optimistic economic prospects, Ho acknowledged, the downward pressure resulting from the local government’s strict Covid-19 prevention measures is causing hardship to local businesses and residents’ employment. As a result, Macao is currently susceptible to various social conflicts and issues.
The vice-chairman of the CPPCC National Committee called for Macao’s civil society to remain confident in Macao’s development prospects, based on the fact that Macao can always rely on the “great” motherland’s backing.
Edmund Ho said he believed that three things, namely the central government’s strong leadership and its support for Macao, the “strong vitality” of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle with Macao characteristics and its institutional advantages, and the local government’s timely measures to tackle residents’ financial hardship and boost the economy, will enable Macao’s people to overcome the ongoing Covid-19-induced hardship.
Advancing development in the Hengqin Cooperation Zone
Macao Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng reafirmed in February that Macao will work closely with the Guangdong province to increase the number of innovative cooperation models and mechanisms, to speed up the achievement of the goals for the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin Island.
The zone is under the joint administration of the Macao government and Guangdong province, offering the city additional territory for developing business, academic and residential facilities with modern infrastructure connections.
During a visit to the island, which is adjacent to Macao, Ho underlined the importance of a dozen agreements on major projects such as integrated circuits, electronic information, biomedicine, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), “big health” and modern financial services, which were signed between the two sides in December 2021.
The Chief Executive underlined four points regarding the zone’s development:
- Those involved in the projects should focus on the zone’s original development mission and optimise its initial concept. Ho underlined that Chinese President Xi Jinping has outlined a clear path for the zone’s development through four strategic approaches:
- A new platform for promoting Macao’s appropriate economic diversification
- A new area in which Macao residents can live and work
- A new showcase to implement the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle
- A new perspective to promote the development of the Greater Bay Area
- Develop the rules and mechanisms that connect Macao and the cooperation zone in Hengqin, ensuring that the respective advantages of each place can complement each other, and also to strengthen the regulatory systems. Ho noted that the zone’s Executive Committee was already operating stably and smoothly. He said the next step should be to focus on research and a comparison of the regulatory systems in Macao and Hengqin. The zone should also advance connections between the financial services of Macao and Hengqin, and their civil and commercial administrations. The introduction of legal services with Macao characteristics to handle civil and commercial matters was also necessary, he added.
- Fresh progress was required to attract more businesses and investment to the zone, as well as to promote the launch of new projects there. Ho said a first-class team was needed to work on bringing in businesses and to create a database for attracting large-scale business projects to the zone, in particular projects covering integrated circuits, biomedicine, new energies, and new materials. It was necessary, Ho argued, to accelerate key projects for the zone, such as building a computing platform, as well as establishing a technological innovation centre for TCM. Ho also urged increased efforts to attract a greater number of skilled professionals to the zone, while also meeting general manpower needs.
- Encouraging dynamism in the team working in the zone, and raising the efficiency of entrepreneurship there was critical. Implementation of the zone’s policies depended on the people involved in it, Ho said. The Chief Executive also stressed that the Executive Committee must work in an environment of stability, cohesion and vitality. Hiring support staff should be based on individuals’ ability and merit, and the need to encourage an imaginative approach, to create a pioneering atmosphere and promote efficiency, the Chief Executive said. Ho called on all the personnel working in the zone on secondment from the Macao government to learn from their Guangdong colleagues, and to publicise the regulatory advantages enjoyed by Macao, to promote the guiding principle of ‘Mutual Discussion, Joint Construction, Joint Administration and Shared Benefits’ for the zone.