Xia Baolong: Joint efforts to polish Macao’s golden business card as an international metropolis
Government Information Bureau
2024-05-15 22:54
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(Source: website of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office)

The Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the Director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, Mr Xia Baolong, visited the Macao Chamber of Commerce and listened to entrepreneurs’ suggestions and opinions on issues related to Macao’s economic development.

At the meeting on Tuesday (14 May), Director Xia said that President Xi Jinping attached great importance to the development of Macao and was highly concerned about Macao people’s well-being. The central authorities have always been fully, accurately, and steadfastly implementing the principles of “One country, two systems” and “patriots governing Macao”, supporting the Chief Executive and the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) Government to unite and lead various sectors of society, to seize the historic opportunities of national development, and continue realising the “One country, two systems” principle with Macao characteristics.

Director Xia stated that Macao has always been sticking together with and sharing weal and woe with the motherland. Macao people had made unique and important contributions to the country’s revolution, development and reformation during various historical periods. Such powerful momentum came from Macao’s industrial and commercial sectors, including the Macao Chamber of Commerce. Since Macao’s return to the motherland, with the full support of the central authorities, Macao has created the best ever environment for development, and leveraged its unique positioning and advantages to lay a solid foundation for sustainable development.

Macao enjoys the biggest constitutional advantage – “One country, two systems”, which is the best constitutional arrangement for maintaining Macao’s long-term stability and prosperity. Macao retains its capitalist system and lifestyle, while sharing the broad mainland China market and development opportunities. Fully supported by the country, Macao is like the apple of the country’s eyes. The country is always the solid support for Macao, who will satisfy requests by Macao.

Macao enjoys abundant horizons for development. When Macao returned to the motherland in 1999, it had a total land area of only 21.45 square kilometres. After being granted approvals by the central authorities for reclamation and demarcation of land boundary, Macao has gradually increased its land area to 33.3 square kilometres. In 2015, the central authorities specified that the area of waters of the MSAR is 85 square kilometres. In 2021, the central authorities officially established an area of 106.46 square kilometres as the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, which is administered under a new system of “mutual discussions, joint construction, joint administration and shared benefits”, thus expanded Macao’s area for development up to 224.76 square kilometres. Macao is no longer a tiny city. Its room for development has expanded more than ten times as compared to its original land area upon returning to the motherland in 1999.

Macao enjoys a highly internationalised business environment. It has established stable economic and trade relationships with more than 120 countries and regions. Macao is now member of over 190 international organisations and entities, and holders of MSAR Passports are granted visa-free access or visas on arrival by 145 countries and regions. Macao continues improving its business environment, maintains its separate customs territory and free port status, and implements simple low tax rates. Macao is now one of the places in the world enjoying the lowest business income tax rates, and recognised by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as one of the most open economies for trade and investment in the world. Macao maintains close contact with Portuguese-speaking countries, and acts as an important exchange and cooperation platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. The Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao) is the only multilateral economic and trade cooperation mechanism of China that uses language as a bridge, which covers all countries with Portuguese as the official language. Since the establishment of the Forum Macao, the trade value between China and Portuguese-speaking countries has increased by 20 times.

Macao leverages its strong economic foundation. Macao’s GDP has increased from 51.9 billion patacas in 1999 to 444.5 billion patacas in 2019, maintaining its position at the top of the list of developed economies with an average annual growth of 11 percent. After the COVID-19 pandemic situation was stabilised, Macao’s GDP surged 80.5 percent in 2023, ranking the fifth place on per capita GDP in the world as computed by purchasing power parity. Macao’s fiscal reserves amounted to more than 580 billion patacas. Last year, the MSAR Government announced its first Development Plan for Appropriate Economic Diversification, specifying the “1+4” appropriate economic diversification strategy, to inject new momentum for economic growth. Since the beginning of this year, Macao’s economy demonstrated a favourable start, with 8.875 million visitors entering Macao during the first quarter. The central authorities included 10 more mainland China cities in the “facilitated individual travel” scheme, allowing more mainland China residents to travel independently to Hong Kong and Macao. More benefiting policies and measures are expected to be launched in the future.

Macao enjoys the advantage of multiculturalism. Macao infused with Eastern and Western cultural heritage, with diverse and co-existing religions, languages, architectures, and communities, demonstrating Macao’s unique characteristics and value of Sino-Western cultural convergence. The cluster of historic monuments of Macao, including Ruins of St Paul’s and more than 20 Chinese- and Western-style building structures and squares and largos, are inscribed on UNESCO’s list of world heritage, forming a beautiful Macao tourism business card. Macau Grand Prix has been organised for 70 consecutive years, which is globally recognised as the world’s best street track. The Macao International Music Festival has been organised up to 35 editions. Macao provides world-class venues for performances, conventions and exhibitions, and is ranked top 20 of the Asian-Pacific city for international conferences.  Macao is also home for the most Forbes five-star hotels in the world. With 48 Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, Macao is designated as a “Creative City of Gastronomy” by the UNESCO. All the above are the unique elements for Macao to attract visitors from around the world.

Macao has a traditional passion of patriotism and loyalty. Macao people are traditionally patriotic with strong sense of national identity, belonging and pride. Since its return to the motherland, the MSAR Government has always been attaching importance to promote patriotism, and firmly implements the basic principle of “patriots governing Macao”. Macao is one of the safest cities in the world. Macao residents are provided with a series of welfare policies and measures, such as free education, free medical services, and double-tier social security system. The average life expectancy of Macao people is among the highest in the world. As livelihood continues improving, Macao people’s sense of satisfaction, peace and happiness have been enhanced.

Director Xia emphasised that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 25th anniversary of Macao’s return to the motherland. Standing at the starting point of new development, Macao people should fully support the Chief Executive and the MSAR Government in its administration in accordance with the law, leverage Macao’s unique positioning and advantages, promote quality social and economic development, join force to polish Macao’s golden business card as an international cosmopolitan, and leverage Macao’s functions in supporting the country’s high-quality development and national rejuvenation.

First, further contributions should be made to promote Macao’s appropriate economic diversification, by focusing the “1+4” strategy specified by the MSAR Government. Second, further contributions should be made to integrate into national development plan, proactively aligning with national strategies on the quality development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the “Belt and Road” initiative, and supporting the MSAR Government on developing Hengqin. Third, further contributions should be made to enhance Macao’s international influence, broadening the connections with the European Union and South-eastern Asian countries, especially strengthening the function as a trade and economic cooperation services platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, to facilitate extensive, deepened and pragmatic cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. Fourth, further contributions should be made to advocate the traditions of being loyal to the country and to Macao, continue supporting the strengthening of patriotism, advocating the core value of love for the country and for Macao, and build the broadest consensus for social development.

Director Xia said, standing at the new starting point, Macao is encountering the best time for construction and development. With the nation as the solid support and the joint efforts of Macao people, it is firmly believed that Macao will proceed to a widening path of success for realising the “One country, two systems” principle with Macao characteristics. The express of the new era – “Macao” will definitely move on fast and stable.

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