Ho Iat Seng, Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), pledged to create new perspectives for “one country, two systems” practices during a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.
With solid conditions facilitated by the central authorities, the Macao SAR government will better leverage its advantages of firm support from the motherland and links with the world, and enhance the coupling effects of domestic and international markets and resources to achieve new development, Ho said. .
ACCELERATING INTEGRATION IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Since China’s central authorities issued a master plan in September 2021 for the construction of the Guangdong-Macao Deep Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, in the neighboring city of Zhuhai, the development of the zone has injected new energy into Macao’s integration into overall national development. and the enrichment of “one country, two systems” practices.
“The deep cooperation zone is not a common development zone, but a pioneering movement that calls for joint administration by Macao and the Chinese mainland over an area of 106 square kilometers. There is no precedent,” explained Ho, calling it a big question.
In the Macao SAR government’s policy speeches for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, the Deep Cooperation Zone was twice listed as a priority for its work agenda.
Ho emphasized that the cooperation zone provided Macao with land and employment support, widening the scope for Macao to adequately diversify its economy.
Last year, preferential tax policies were put in place for companies and Macao residents working in Hengqin. Investors from mainland China and Macao can complete company registrations in Hengqin or Macao without crossing the border. Quotas have been increased for private passenger vehicles registered in Macao to enter Hengqin.
With these solid foundations in place, the development of the cooperation zone will focus on articulating mechanisms and rules, as well as supporting facilities for people’s lives in the future, Ho said.
This year is crucial for building the cooperation zone and achieving its first phase objectives, he noted, underlining the need to employ creative thinking to break bottlenecks.
PROMOTE ADEQUATE ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION
Ho stressed that promoting adequate economic diversification and striving to build an appropriately diversified industrial structure is the main task of the Macao SAR government and different spheres of society.
“Macau has no primary industry, while the proportion of secondary industry is very small,” recalled Ho, noting that Macao’s heavy dependence on tertiary industry highlighted the problem of unbalanced industrial structure that exacerbated economic problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. .
“Learning from painful experiences, Macao has to achieve the target of industrial diversification,” he added.
In the policy speech for the fiscal year 2023, a strategy was presented to achieve economic diversification through transforming Macao into a world center of tourism and leisure, and to continuously advance the development of key industries of great health, modern finance, high technologies, conventions and exhibitions, as well as culture and sports.
In June 2022, the revision of Macau’s gaming laws was approved and entered into force. Towards the end of the year, a new round of gaming concession bidding was completed.
“We will make efforts to ensure that non-gaming industries represent around 60% of Macao’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and that a sustainable industrial structure is created that adapts to Macao’s reality,” he said.
Noting that the process of industrial diversification takes time and faces difficulties, Ho said that this barrier must be overcome to avoid having to face the same problem again in the future.
SAFEGUARD UNSHAKE NATIONAL SECURITY
Firmly safeguarding national security and maintaining social stability were also listed as one of the priorities for governance in the Macao SAR government’s 2023 policy speech.
Ho pledged that the Macao SAR will always work to ensure that political power and governing power are kept firmly in the hands of the patriots, so as to consolidate the socio-political foundation for the stable and sustained development of “one country, two systems”.
Since 2009, Macao has completed legislation on safeguarding national security as stipulated in the Basic Law of the Macao SAR, established the Committee for Safeguarding the National Security of the Macao SAR, chaired by the Chief Executive, amended the supporting laws, intensified the construction of the enforcement team, raised awareness of the issue and improved the electoral system for the Legislative Assembly.
In 2022, the Macao SAR government has steadily moved forward with amending the Macao National Security Safeguarding Law.
“Safeguarding national security is the constitutional responsibility of the Macao SAR,” said Ho, adding that the amended law is a move to enforce accountability.
The Macao SAR government has stated in its second five-year plan that the electoral system will be improved to ensure that the governing power is firmly kept in the hands of the patriots.
ACCELERATE RECOVERY IN A NEW JOURNEY
Macau was hit hard by COVID-19 in 2022, which led to the suspension of major business activities, putting unprecedented downward pressure on the macroeconomy.
“Now, the fog is lifting. Macau’s economic and social development is gradually recovering,” said Ho.
Looking back, Ho said that the Macao SAR has formulated epidemic control policies in accordance with the central government’s general principle over the past three years, while working to meet the people’s livelihood needs, to ensure social stability and to maintain exchanges of information. personal, business and trade with the mainland.
On January 8, 2023, the first day since Macao and the Chinese mainland stopped requiring nucleic acid test results for COVID-19 when crossing the border, around 40,000 visitors entered Macao, around 1, 5 times more than the average daily number of visitors in 2022.
“You can see more people on the streets. Macao’s economic vitality is returning,” Ho said, stressing that the Macao SAR will first and foremost take solid measures to welcome visitors, including implementing policies that allow Mainland residents to apply online for Macao and overseas visas. group tours.
As mentioned in the 2023 policy speech, the Macao SAR faces two important and urgent tasks: accelerating economic recovery and promoting adequate diversification.
“Economic recovery is a short-term goal. The long-term goal has to be to promote adequate diversification, which is the only way for Macao to resolve the underlying conflicts and problems in socio-economic development,” he added.
Noting that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Basic Law of the Macao SAR, Ho said that Macao has ushered in a good start to the year, with multiple favorable factors emerging.
The current priority for the Macao SAR government is to focus on economic work and improving people’s lives, with the hope of achieving economic recovery and new development through actively integrating into the country’s economic circulation and realizing economic diversification. of Macao, he explained.
“Macau faces a very good development opportunity. I am confident that the Macao SAR government, together with Macao residents, can seize the opportunity and work towards a turnaround for the better,” concluded Ho.