On the first day of a three-day working visit to Macau, National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Chairman Zhang Dejiang urged the local government to constantly improve its governance, as well as to push the continuation of the successful implementation of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.
Zhang made the remarks during a session in which the local government briefed Zhang on its work, at Government Headquarters during which Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On gave the opening speech, followed by Zhang who praised the local government’s achievements.
On arriving in Macau, Zhang first had a meeting with Chui at the New Bamboo Mansion, where Zhang is staying for the duration of his visit. The building on Penha Hill is the official guesthouse of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Macau.
At the mansion, Zhang – who ranks third in the nation’s political hierarchy – also had a meeting with Chui’s predecessor, National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Vice-Chairman Edmund Ho Hau Wah.
During the meeting Chui said that Macau had experienced good development in recent years, under the “care” of the central government, as well as thanks to the joint efforts of the local government and local residents.
Chui said that the central government’s Belt & Road Initiative and its plan to develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) would create more opportunities for Macau’s development.
Chui emphasised that the local economy has been improving after going through an economic adjustment for 26 months, adding that the local government was striving to improve the quality of Macau’s economic development.
Chui also said the local government would continue to deepen cooperation with the mainland.
In his speech at the start of the session, Zhang noted that after Macau’s return to China in 1999, the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and the Macau Basic Law have been fully implemented, adding that the central government’s “overall jurisdiction” over the city has also been “effectively” exercised.
Zhang stressed that the city’s high degree of autonomy has been fully guaranteed, adding that the city’s executive-led political system has been operating well.
Zhang said he was glad that Chui’s government is striving to grasp opportunities created by the central government’s 13th Five-Year Plan and its Belt & Road Initiative.
Zhang said the central government was satisfied with the local government’s efforts to develop the city into a world tourism and leisure centre and a business-service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries – a development concept for Macau he described as “one centre and one platform” – as well as its efforts to diversify the city’s economy.
Zhang was quick to add that while the “overall” development of Macau is good, it was facing a number of problems and challenges. He said the continuous socio-economic development of the city has resulted in its residents having higher expectations of the local government, adding he hoped the local government will constantly enhance the efficiency of its governance.
In the morning after his arrival in Macau Zhang said in the airport that he was delegated by President Xi Jinping to visit Macau to get a better understanding of its economic and social development, adding he would like to pass on Xi’s sincere greetings and wishes, as well as those by central government and all ethnic groups in the country, to Macau compatriots
Zhang said the aims of his three-day visit could be summed up in three words, namely “experience”, “inspection” and “encouragement”.
Zhang also said he would like to experience the “glamour” of Macau’s success and to “walk, look around and listen” as much as possible to experience Macau’s development, changes and achievements.
Pointing out that the city’s economy and society have gone through “huge” changes since its return to the motherland, Zhang said the livelihoods of local residents have significantly improved, adding that he aimed to experience Macau’s development and achievements as well as local residents’ happiness during his visit.
“As you know, I’m responsible for Hong Kong and Macau affairs in the central government. I pay close attention to Macau’s development and changes every day. However, seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times,” Zhang said, adding he would like to take this opportunity to see Macau’s accomplishments since the establishment of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR).
Zhang also said he would listen to the local government’s reports on its work, referencing Xi’s “four hopes” for Macau which the president mentioned during his visit for the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Macau Special Administrative Region.
Xi’s “four hopes” are for the local government to enhance the governance ability in accordance with the law, to diversify the city’s economy, to promote social harmony and stability, and to strengthen the patriotic education of young people.
Zhang said, “The central government gives clear [policy-making] guidelines to the chief executive of the MSAR every time when he pays a duty visit to Beijing.
“Since Macau’s return to the motherland, especially in recent years, the central government has strengthened its support of the local government,” Zhang said, pointing out that the central government has launched a string of measures to benefit Macau.
Zhang said his visit also aimed to see how Xi’s “four hopes”, the central government’s guidelines and the measures designated to benefit Macau have been implemented by the local government, adding he would listen to work reports from the local government and opinions from the various sectors of civil society during his visit.
Describing Macau’s achievements after the establishment of the MSAR as “brilliant”, Zhang said the achievements have “attracted worldwide attention”.
Pointing out that Macau is undergoing an important transformation in its development, Zhang stressed how important it is for Macau’s various sectors and the local government to break new ground for the city’s social and economic development.
Zhang said his visit was to demonstrate that the central government continues to support Macau in its economic and social development, adding he wanted to “cheer Macau on” during his visit.
Moreover, Zhang recalled that he visited the city for the first time in 2004 when he promoted the Pan-Pearl River Delta (PPRD) Regional Cooperation Forum.
The PPRD Cooperation concept was initiated by Zhang over a decade ago. He was then Guangdong party secretary.
Zhang said at that time that Guangdong and Macau were planning Hengqin Island’s development and moving the University of Macau (UM) campus to the island.
According to a government statement during a meeting with Chui at the New Bamboo Mansion, Zhang said that Macau has seen great changes under the governance of its two chief executives.
Zhang underlined that Macau’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased 5.9 fold (590 percent) in nominal terms last year compared to 1999, equivalent to an annual growth rate of 7.75 percent on average in real terms, and that the city had a GDP per capita of US$69,000 last year, which he said was among the highest in the world.
Zhang’s inspection visit will end tomorrow morning.
According to several lawmakers, he will visit the Legislative Assembly (AL) today.