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Xi says Macau, HK issues are nation’s ‘internal matters’, no external forces can ‘dictate things to us’

President Xi Jinping stressed on Friday that with the return of Macau and Hong Kong to the motherland, the handling of affairs in the two special administrative regions is “strictly China’s internal matter” so that “there is no need for any external forces to dictate things to us”.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

President Xi Jinping stressed on Friday that with the return of Macau and Hong Kong to the motherland, the handling of affairs in the two special administrative regions (SARs) is “strictly China’s internal matter” so that “there is no need for any external forces to dictate things to us”.

The Chinese government and people have a “rock-firm determination” to uphold national sovereignty, security and the country’s development interests, Xi said, adding: “We will never tolerate any external interference in Hong Kong and Macau affairs.”

Xi made the remarks when giving a speech during a swearing-in ceremony for the fifth-term Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) government at the Macau East Asian Dome in Cotai.

According to a statement by the Macau Government Information Bureau (GCS), about 1,100 people attended the ceremony on Friday morning including Macau’s two former chief executives Edmund Ho Hau Wah and Fernando Chui Sai On, newly sworn in Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Xi said that 20 years ago, Macau having gone through various “vicissitudes”, returned to the embrace of the motherland, the MSAR of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established, which ushered in a new historical era for Macau.

Over the past two decades, with the strong support of the central government and the mainland and under the leadership of chief executives Edmund Ho Hau Wah and Fernando Chui Sai On, the MSAR government and people from various sectors of Macau society have worked closely together to take the city into its “best development” period in history, Xi said.

A shining chapter has been written in the successful practice of “One Country, Two Systems” with Macau characteristics, Xi added.

‘Constitutional order solidly established’

Xi pointed out that in the past 20 years since its return to the motherland, Macau has “solidly established a constitutional order” on the basis of the national Constitution and the MSAR Basic Law, and improved its governance system.

Xi also pointed out that the MSAR has firmly upheld the central government’s “overall jurisdiction and properly exercised a high degree of autonomy”, adding that the MSAR has smoothly completed local legislation on relevant matters including Article 23 of the Basic Law and the National Anthem Law, and set up a Safeguarding National Security Committee.

Macau’s constitutional responsibilities for upholding national sovereignty, security and the nation’s development interests have been effectively implemented, Xi underlined.

Xi said that the executive authorities, legislature and judiciary of the MSAR have performed their duties in “strict accordance” with the law, adding that they have “properly handled” their mutual relations and “consciously upheld” the authority of the chief executive.

In doing so, they have ensured the “smooth functioning” of the “executive-led system” with the chief executive at its centre, Xi said. As a result, according to Xi, the MSAR has made orderly progress in democratic and political development, and Macau residents’ extensive rights and freedoms under the law have been “fully guaranteed”.

‘Phenomenal economic development achieved’

According to Xi, in the past 20 years since its return to the motherland, Macau has achieved phenomenal economic development and continuous improvements in people’s lives. Steady progress has been made in establishing Macau as “one centre, one platform, one base”, Xi said.

“One centre, one platform, one base” refers to Macau’s role as global tourism and leisure centre, a commercial and trade cooperation service platform between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries (PSCs) and a cultural exchange and cooperation base with Chinese culture as its mainstream and the coexistence of different cultures, Xi pointed in his 30-minute speech.

Xi pointed out that Macau’s per capita gross regional product (GDP) has jumped to the second highest in the world. Significant results have been achieved in Macau’s “appropriate” economic diversification and various emerging industries, such as conventions and exhibitions, traditional Chinese medicine and featured finance are booming, Xi said.

Macau has taken an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA), Xi noted, adding that people’s welfare benefits have “risen substantially”.

A host of policies, including free education and healthcare, and two-tier social security have benefited the whole community, Xi said. As a result, Macau’s residents are having a greater sense of fulfilment and happiness, Xi underlined.

‘Social stability and harmony enjoyed’

Xi stressed that in the past 20 years since its return to the motherland, Macau has enjoyed social stability and harmony and a fusion of diverse cultures. “Inadequate law and order”, a problem before Macau’s return to the motherland, was “swiftly addressed”.

This city is now one of the safest in the world, Xi said. Close communication has been maintained between the MSAR government and citizens, different sectors of civil society and different ethnic communities, Xi noted.

People from all walks of life express their aspirations and views in a “rational manner” with a sound coordination mechanism in place, the president said. On such a basis, Macau has both contributed to Chinese culture and embraced diverse cultures, Xi underlined.

‘4 important elements of experiences’

Xi stressed that Macau’s accomplishments in the past two decades have captured the world’s attention. Though limited in size, Macau plays a unique role in the practice of “One Country, Two Systems”. According to Xi, four important elements of experiences can be learnt from Macau’s successful application of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.

Firstly, Macau compatriots always have “unwavering confidence” in the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. The fellow compatriots in Macau genuinely support “One Country, Two Systems”, and see it as the “best institutional arrangement” to ensure Macau’s long-term prosperity and stability.

In implementing “One Country, Two Systems”, the MSAR government and society have worked both to safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country and to uphold the long-term prosperity and stability of Macau itself.

With a firm resolve, Macau has “never wavered” in the face of temporary complications or lost direction due to external interference. On the contrary, Macau has been good at “seizing the opportunities” brought about by the major development strategies and policies of the country.

As a result, Macau has gained a strong momentum and achieved better development by finding its place in the overall development of the country. Macau’s successful experience speaks volumes about the “viability and strength” of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle as long as the compatriots are “committed to it and act on it”, Xi stressed.

Secondly, Macau compatriots always keep to the right direction of “One Country, Two Systems”. The fellow compatriots in Macau truly have recognised “One Country” as the premise and precondition of “Two Systems”, “unequivocally uphold” the constitutional order established by the Constitution and the Basic Law, and respect the socialist system adopted on the mainland and correctly handle issues concerning the relationship between the central government and the MSAR.

The executive branch, legislature and judiciary of the MSAR have upheld the central government’s overall jurisdiction over the MSAR while ensuring the MSAR’s high degree of autonomy. Macau compatriots have “resolutely” stood by the “red line” of the “One China” principle and “earnestly safeguarded” the power held by the central government, standing with the Basic Law, Xi stressed.

Macau’s successful experience shows that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle must be implemented “in letter and in spirit” to ensure its “steady and long-term” progress, Xi noted.

Thirdly, Macau compatriots have always maintained a strong sense of mission and responsibility in implementing the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. The fellow compatriots in Macau have a sense of “ownership” and always keep the country’s overall interests and Macau’s fundamental interests firmly in mind.

Xi pointed out that the compatriots in Macau have made it their common mission to successfully implement the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, “Macau people administering Macau” and Macau enjoying a high degree of autonomy, adding that they have embedded their mission in the effort to realise the Chinese Dream of great national rejuvenation.

The MSAR government has led people from all sectors of Macau society in an active search for an approach to governance and a development path suited to the realities of Macau. A range of policy measure have been introduced, including “consolidating the foundations and developing steadily”, “progressively raising the holistic quality of life of Macau’s residents”, “continuity and innovation to create social harmony” and “standing united to achieve common goals and share in prosperity”, Xi noted.

Xi pointed out that intensive efforts have been made by the MSAR government 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 Macau “young and dynamic” again.

Macau’s successful experiences prove that the fellow compatriots in Macau, as “masters of their own house”, are fully capable of meeting the challenges of the time and achieving success in running, building and developing the MSAR, Xi underlined.

Fourthly, Macau compatriots have always reinforced the social and political foundations for the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. Xi pointed out that the fellow compatriots in Macau have a tradition of loving the motherland as well as a strong sense of national identity, belonging and pride, adding that this is the “most important” reason behind the success of “One Country, Two Systems” in Macau.

The MSAR government and society are committed to carrying forward this patriotic tradition and firmly implement “Macau people administering Macau” with patriots playing the main role. The MSAR authorities mainly consist of patriots, the ranks of people who love the motherland as well as Macau are expanding and gaining momentum by the day, and loving the motherland as well as Macau has become the dominant core value of Macau society, Xi noted.

Thanks to the leadership of the chief executives, earnest efforts by government agencies and wide participation of all sectors, patriotic education is carried out with much success in all types of schools in Macau, “planting the seeds” of national identity and patriotic spirit deep in the hearts and minds of the young people, Xi underlined.

Macau’s successful experience teaches the compatriots in Macau the importance of continuously reinforcing and expanding the social and political foundations required by the implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” and of achieving the broadest unity under the banner of loving the motherland as well as Macau, according to Xi. It provides the fundamental safeguard for the continued progress of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle along the right track, Xi stressed.

Xi pointed out that the journey of “One Country, Two Systems” is “long and hard”, adding that the world is experiencing changes unseen in a century, and Macau is facing new dynamics internally and externally.

In this context, Xi urged the new MSAR government and all sectors of Macau society to stand higher 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-orientated” and “hard-working”.

Building on what Macau has accomplished, Xi encouraged the compatriots in Macau to take all undertakings in the MSAR to the next level. Based on that, Xi pointed out his four hopes:

‘Four hopes’

Firstly, keeping abreast of the times and further elevating the MSAR’s governance level. Xi pointed out that Macau needs to adapt to the dynamics and new requirements of modern social governance, advance reform in public administration and other systems, enhance efficacy in administration and governance, and modernise the governance system and capacity.

Macau also needs to take the rule of law as the basic principle of running the MSAR and continue to improve the systems and mechanisms for administering Macau in accordance with the law, Xi said.

In addition, Macau needs to harness science and technology, move faster in public administration and social governance by using big data and other information technologies. The objective is to enable better decision-making by the government, a more targeted approach to social governance and more efficient delivery of public services, Xi noted.

Secondly, breaking new ground and innovating to better realise sustained and sound economic development. Xi stressed that a long-term perspective must be adopted when drawing development plans. With the goal of becoming “one centre, one platform, one base” in mind, Macau needs to develop well-conceived plans, adopt a holistic and coordinated approach ad implement the plans step by step.

On the basis of Macau’s realities and through vigorous feasibility studies, the MSAR must identify the main focus and relevant key projects for the “appropriate” diversification of Macau’s economy. It must take multi-pronged steps in terms of policy, human resources and financial support, and resolve the most difficult issues through synergy, Xi noted.

Xi also pointed out that Macau needs to carve out its role in national strategies, seize the opportunities provided by BRI cooperation and of the GBA, better leverage its own strength and sharpen its competitive edge, as well as to ensure good collaboration with Zhuhai in developing Hengqin, as it will create immense space for Macau’s long-term development and inject “fresh impetus” into it.

Thirdly, continuing to put the people first and better safeguarding and improving their well-being. Xi stressed that it must be clearly understood that the goal of development is to deliver better lives to the people of Macau, 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.

In order to foster a better living environment and higher quality of life, Xi pointed out that Macau needs to combine its development needs with the people’s needs and improve public infrastructure relating to transportation, energy, environmental protection, information and law and order.

The MSAR needs to actively respond to people’s complaints, solve “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 keep developing education and put in place a high-standard education system, so as to create a more conducive environment for children and young people to grow and live to their full potential, Xi noted.

Fourthly, persisting in an inclusive approach and further promoting social harmony and stability. Xi pointed out that the core value of loving the motherland as well as Macau needs to be upheld and encouraged so that everyone in society will be mobilised to contribute to Macau’s development.

Macau’s community organisations must be strengthened and those that love the motherland as well as Macau can serve as bridges between the government and the people. Macau’s good tradition of valuing unity and consultation must be preserved, and things should be settled through consultation and done through coordination, Xi noted.

Xi said societal problems must be properly addressed for the greater good of social harmony. As a place where Chinese and Western cultures meet, Macau is well positioned to do more to promote international people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning between civilisations, the president concluded.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

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