Macao's great development and changes over the past 20 years have demonstrated the vitality of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle. Macao has made these achievements only because it has integrated its own development with that of the motherland, said Ho Hau Wah, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Over the decades' development, the gross domestic product (GDP) of Macao soared to 54.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 from the 6.1 billion U.S. dollars in 1999, with its financial reserves and foreign reserves growing 193 fold and 6.2 fold respectively.
Ho Hau Wah, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), receives group interview in Macao, December 9, 2019. (Photo: chinanews.com)
Employment now is full, and the government has done its utmost to promote a strong social welfare system, including public security, housing, education, medical care, talent training, disaster prevention, and mitigation. Macao residents are enjoying a strong sense of happiness and gain.
"Macao wouldn't have made these achievements without the strong support of the central government, its policies as well as the efforts of Macao residents," Ho said.
"In my opinion, one important thing is that during the past 20 years, Macao has organically combined its own fate and development with those of the motherland, which not only helped Macao achieve the breakthrough in development but also laid a solid foundation for it to play an important role in the national development."
'One Country, Two Systems' with Macao characteristics
In the past 20 years, Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) government has united all walks of the society to comprehensively and accurately understand and implement the "One Country, Two Systems," firmly uphold the authority of the Constitution and Basic Law, pass the torch of loving the motherland and Macao, thus achieving rapid economic development, continuous improvement of people's livelihood and social stability and harmony, demonstrating to the world a successful practice of "One Country, Two Systems" with Macao characteristics.
For "One Country, Two Systems" to go far and steady in Macao, some good experiences need to be kept.
The first is to maintain the core value of loving the motherland and Macao.
"Macao residents of all ages have a full, accurate understanding of the Basic Law and the national Constitution. This has led to the smooth implementation of the 'One Country, Two Systems' with Macao characteristics," Ho said.
The second is that patriotic spirit education is deep-rooted in schools, youth societies, and government agencies, which has helped to pass the torch of patriotic tradition from one generation to the next.
The third is Macao residents automatically align their own fates with that of the motherland so that they can actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), seeking their own development opportunities within the overall development plan of the country.
"Macao is much less international compared with Hong Kong. At the time of return we decided that we should rely completely on the mainland on the principle of 'exchanging with provinces far away and integrating with provinces close-by'. With far-away provinces, we will carry out more exchanges and seek cooperation opportunities. With neighboring Guangdong Province, we will push forward integration if permitted," Ho said.
"The GBA is a golden opportunity for Macao people," as it allows Macao to make full use of its advantages accumulated after the return and enables it to break its long-time development bottleneck.
Macao's biggest advantage is that it is a free port under the framework of "One Country, Two Systems", enjoying an independent monetary policy as well as free financial, economic, and trade activities.
Thus it is an economy full of vitality, Ho said, adding the SAR government and all walks of society should continue to make full use of the benefit of "One Country, Two Systems" and bring its advantages to full play in accordance with the country's needs.