Speech on the 20th Anniversary of Macao's Return to China and the Inauguration of the
Fifth-Term Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region
December 20, 2019
My fellow compatriots,
Not long ago, we held a grand celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Today, we have gathered here with great joy to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland. First of all, on behalf of the central government and people of all ethnic groups, I wish to extend cordial greetings to all residents in Macao, and offer warm congratulations to Mr Ho Iat Seng, the fifth chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR), all principal officials and the members of the Executive Council who have just been sworn in. I also wish to express heartfelt thanks to all fellow Chinese at home and abroad and foreign friends who have taken an active interest in Macao's development and given their support.
Twenty years ago today, Macao, having endured many years of separation, returned to the embrace of the motherland, and the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China was established. This marked the beginning of a historic era for Macao. Over the past two decades, with the strong support of the central government and the mainland and under the leadership of Chief Executives Ho Hau Wah and Chui Sai On, the MSAR government and people from every sector of Macao have worked closely together to usher in Macao's best period of development in its history. A shining chapter has been written in the successful application of "one country, two systems" with Macao characteristics.
– In the past 20 years since its return to the motherland, Macao has established a solid constitutional order on the basis of China's Constitution and the MSAR Basic Law and improved its governance system. The MSAR has firmly upheld the central authorities' overall jurisdiction and properly exercised its high degree of autonomy. It has smoothly completed the enactment of local legislation necessary to apply relevant national laws including Article 23 of the Basic Law and the National Anthem Law, and set up a Committee for Safeguarding National Security. The MSAR has effectively fulfilled its constitutional responsibility for upholding China's national sovereignty, security and development interests. Its executive authorities, legislature and judiciary have performed their duties in strict accordance with the law. They have properly handled their mutual relations and consciously upheld the authority of the chief executive. In so doing, they have ensured the smooth operation of the executive-led system with the chief executive at its center. As a result, the MSAR has made orderly progress in democracy, and Macao residents' extensive rights and freedoms under the law have been fully guaranteed.
– In the past 20 years since its return to the motherland, Macao has achieved phenomenal economic development and a continuous improvement in its people's lives. Steady progress has been made in establishing Macao as "One Center, One Platform, One Base"1. Macao's per capita GDP has jumped to the second highest in the world. Significant results have been achieved in its appropriate economic diversification. Emerging industries, such as conventions and exhibitions, traditional Chinese medicine, and Macao-specific financial services, are booming. The city has taken an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Welfare benefits have risen substantially. A host of policies, including free education and health care, and two-tier social security, have benefited the whole community. Macao residents now have a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness.
– In the past 20 years since its return to the motherland, Macao has enjoyed social stability and harmony and a fusion of diverse cultures. Inadequate law and order, a problem that plagued Macao before its return, was swiftly addressed. This city is now one of the safest in the world. Close communication has been maintained between the MSAR government and citizens, between different sectors of society, and between different ethnic communities. People from all walks of life express their wishes in a rational manner through sound mechanisms of coordination. On this basis, Macao has both contributed to Chinese culture and embraced diverse cultures.
My fellow compatriots,
Macao's accomplishments in the past two decades have captured the world's attention. Though limited in size, Macao plays a unique role in the practice of "one country, two systems". Four important things can be learned from Macao's successful application of the policy:
First, we must always have rock-solid confidence in "one country, two systems". Our fellow compatriots in Macao genuinely support the "one country, two systems" policy and see it as the best institutional arrangement to ensure Macao's long-term prosperity and stability. In implementing the policy, the MSAR government and all sectors of Macao have endeavored to both safeguard our country's sovereignty, security and development interests and promote Macao's long-term prosperity and stability. Firm and resolute, Macao has never wavered in the face of temporary complications or become distracted by external interference. On the contrary, Macao has excelled in seizing the opportunities brought by major national development strategies and policies. Macao has thus gained strong momentum and made tremendous progress by taking its proper place in the overall development of the country.
Macao's successful experience proves that as long as we uphold "one country, two systems" and act upon it, the viability and strength of this policy will be on full display.
Second, we must always stay on the right course of "one country, two systems". Our fellow compatriots in Macao fully recognize the "one country" principle as the premise and precondition of "two systems". They unequivocally uphold the constitutional order established by the Constitution and the Basic Law, respect the socialist system practiced in the main body of the country, and correctly handle issues concerning the relationship between the central authorities and the MSAR. The executive, legislative and judiciary branches of the MSAR have upheld the central authorities' overall jurisdiction while enjoying a high degree of autonomy. They have resolutely safeguarded the one-China principle and the authority of the central leadership and the Basic Law.
Macao's successful experience shows that the principle of "one country, two systems" must be applied without deviation or distortion to ensure its steady and long-term progress.
Third, we must always maintain a strong sense of mission and responsibility in implementing the "one country, two systems" principle. Our fellow compatriots in Macao have a sense of being the masters of their own affairs and always keep Macao's fundamental interests and the country's overall interests firmly in mind. They have made it their common mission to ensure the success of "one country, two systems", "Macao people governing Macao" and a high degree of autonomy. They see it as an integral contribution to realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. The MSAR government has led people from all sectors of society in actively exploring a governance model and a development path that are suited to the realities of Macao. A range of policy measures have been introduced, including "consolidating the foundations and developing steadily", "comprehensively improving the quality of life of Macao residents", "preserving heritage while pursuing innovation to promote social harmony", and "standing united to achieve common goals and shared prosperity". Intensive efforts have been made to focus on economic growth, effectively raise living standards, steadfastly uphold the rule of law, progressively advance democracy, and promote social inclusiveness and harmony. These measures have made Macao young and dynamic again.
Macao's successful experience demonstrates that our fellow compatriots in Macao, as masters of their own affairs, are fully capable of meeting the challenges of our time and achieving success in governing, building and developing the MSAR.
Fourth, we must always cement the social and political foundations for "one country, two systems". Our fellow compatriots in Macao have a tradition of loving the motherland and a strong sense of national identity, belonging and pride. This is the most important reason for the success of "one country, two systems" in Macao. The MSAR government and people of all sectors of Macao are committed to carrying forward this tradition and firmly implementing the principle that Macao must be governed by Macao people with patriots as the mainstay. The MSAR governing institutions are mainly composed of those who love the country. The ranks of people who love the country and Macao are expanding and growing in strength by the day. Love for the country and Macao, as a core value, predominates in Macao. Thanks to the leadership of the chief executive, earnest efforts by MSAR government agencies and wide participation of all sectors, patriotic education is carried out with much success in all types of schools in Macao, planting the seeds of national identity and patriotism deep in the hearts and minds of the young.
Macao's successful experience teaches us the importance of continuously cementing and expanding the social and political foundations required for "one country, two systems" and of achieving the broadest possible unity based on love for the country and Macao. This provides the fundamental safeguard for continued progress along the right track of "one country, two systems".
My fellow compatriots,
The journey of "one country, two systems" is long and hard. The world is undergoing a scale of change unseen in a century, and Macao is facing new internal and external dynamics. In this context, the new MSAR government and all sectors of Macao need to stand taller and look farther, brace for potential risks even when the going is good, break new ground while keeping to the right path, and be results-oriented and hard-working. I encourage you to build on what Macao has accomplished and take all undertakings in the MSAR to the next level. For this, let me share with you four expectations:
First, keep abreast of the times and further enhance the quality of governance. The ancient Chinese understood that "those with a sound grasp of governance will leave no problems unresolved and no defects unrepaired"2. Macao needs to adapt to the new dynamics and requirements of modern social governance, advance reform in public administration and other systems, enhance efficacy in administration, and modernize its governance. It needs to take the rule of law as the basic principle of governing the MSAR and continue to improve the systems and mechanisms for governing Macao in accordance with the law. It needs to harness science and technology, move faster towards a smart city, and create innovative models of government administration and social governance through the application of big data and other information technologies. The objective is to improve government decision-making, and make social governance better targeted and public services more efficient.
Second, break new ground to better realize sustained and sound economic development. A long-term perspective must be adopted when drawing up development plans. With the goal of becoming "One Center, One Platform, One Base" in mind, Macao needs to develop well-conceived plans, adopt a holistic and coordinated approach, and implement the plans progressively. On the basis of Macao's realities and through rigorous feasibility studies, the MSAR needs to identify the main focus and key projects for appropriately diversifying its economy. It needs to take a multi-pronged strategy in terms of policy, human resources and financial support, and resolve the most difficult issues through synergy. Macao needs to carve out its role in national strategies, seize the opportunities provided by the Belt and Road Initiative and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, better leverage its own strengths, and sharpen its competitive edge. What is particularly important is to ensure good collaboration with Zhuhai in developing Hengqin, which will create immense space and new momentum for Macao's long-term development.
Third, continue to put people first and better ensure and improve their living standards. It must be clearly understood that the goal of development is to make people's lives better. Thus the MSAR needs to adopt institutional arrangements that are fairer, more equitable, and beneficial to all, so that the fruits of development can be shared by all in the community. To foster a better living environment and higher quality of life, Macao needs to combine its development needs with the people's needs and improve public infrastructure relating to transport, energy, environmental protection, information, and urban safety and security. The MSAR needs to actively respond to public concerns, address prominent issues in housing, health care, and care for the elderly, and scale up assistance and support to the vulnerable. It is also important to further develop education and put in place the best possible education system, so as to create a more conducive environment for children and young people to grow and live to their full potential.
Fourth, persist in an inclusive approach and further promote social harmony and stability. The core value of loving the motherland and Macao needs to be upheld and encouraged so that everyone is mobilized to contribute to Macao's development. Community organizations in Macao should be strengthened, and those that embrace the core values can serve as bridges between the government and the people. Macao's tradition of valuing unity and consultation must be preserved. Matters should be addressed through consultation and settled through coordination. Societal problems must be properly addressed for the greater good of social harmony. As a place where Chinese and Western cultures meet, Macao is well positioned to promote international people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning between cultures.
My fellow compatriots,
I wish to emphasize that, with the return of Hong Kong and Macao, the handling of affairs in the two special administrative regions is strictly China's internal business. No external force has any right to dictate to us. The government and the people of China have a rock-firm determination to uphold our national sovereignty, security and development interests. We will never tolerate any external interference in Hong Kong and Macao affairs.
My fellow compatriots,
In the early 1980s when Deng Xiaoping and other leaders of his generation put forward the great vision of "one country, two systems", they were of the firm belief that it was the right policy and would work, succeed, and win public support. For the past 30 years, the success of "one country, two systems" has won widespread recognition throughout the world. Naturally, steady improvements are needed in the institutional arrangements as the policy continues to be applied. We have every confidence that we Chinese, including our fellow compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao, have the wisdom and ability to better practice and develop "one country, two systems", carry out the necessary improvements in institutional arrangements, and achieve still greater success in governing the two special administrative regions. The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is unstoppable, and the common development and prosperity of Hong Kong and Macao together with the mainland of China can foresee an ever-brighter future.
1 This refers to a global tourism and leisure center, a service platform for commercial and trade cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and a cultural exchange and cooperation base with Chinese culture as the mainstream and the coexistence of multiple cultures.
2 Huan Kuan: Discourses on Salt and Iron (Yan Tie Lun). Huan Kuan (dates unknown) was an official of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 25).
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)