President Xi Jinping expressed four exceptions in his speech following the inauguration of Ho Iat Seng as Chief Executive of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR), as the SAR celebrated its 20th anniversary a week ago. More than expectations, these are guidelines for Ho Iat Seng''s cabinet to put into practice over the next five years. Improve governance, sustainable economic development, citizens' livelihood and pursue social inclusion by consolidating social harmony and stability. Unsurprisingly, the expectations singled out by Xi were already largely embodied in Ho's electoral program when he ran for Chief Executive, and the translation of these guidelines into specific measures should be announced in more detail in the Policy address scheduled for March or April next year. The first expectation outlined by the President should take priority from day one. Administrative reform towards more efficient, modern, honest governance with extensive use of new technologies will be a major challenge. It would also be important at this level to make gradual advances in terms of democratic mechanisms, something that, however, was absent in both Xi and Ho's speeches.
The major undertaking is the protracted moderate but substantial diversification of the economy. There's easy fix to this purpose, but the direction is set and the pace must be sped up. And an alignment with the national development strategies of the Great Bay Area development plan and the Belt and Road Initiative is surely essential. But it is necessary to go well beyond paying lip service. There is a need for concrete action with wisdom, determination, while expressing the city"s own voice. In the pillars "One Center, One Platform, One Base" - underlined by Xi Jinping - cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries is not only an asset but a project with a potential yet to be fully explored, despite the important steps that have already been taken. With a sense of commitment, a deeper focus on the Sino-Lusophone dimension of Macau will create a virtuous cycle. It is a long-term structuring path for Macau's economic diversification; it stimulates the empowerment of local bilingual human capital and lends identity and scale to Macau's participation in the Greater Bay Area integration and the New Maritime Silk Route. In addition, it enhances Beijing's soft power against a challenging external environment and enriches the practice of the One Country Two Systems principle. With vision, concrete goals, investment and instruments, there is no mistake. It is safe bet. The house will win. Everyone will benefit.