Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Banquet in Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Macao’s Return to China: Pool Our Strengths and Work together to Write a New Chapter of the Success of “One Country, Two Systems”
Chinese Embassy in the UK, 16 December 2019
Your Excellency Ambassador Antunes,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening and welcome to the Chinese Embassy!
It is a real delight to have you with us to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China!
On 20th December 1999, the Chinese Government resumed sovereignty over Macao and the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China was established.
This was another milestone in the history of the Chinese nation following the return of Hong Kong on 1st July 1997.
It marked a new step towards complete reunification of China.
It ushered in a new era of prosperity and development in Macao.
And it opened a new chapter in China-Portugal relationship.
In the past 20 years, Macao, a coastal city of only 30 square kilometers with a population of 670,000, has achieved remarkable success in its development. Its success in “One Country, Two Systems”, “Macao people administering Macao” and a high degree of autonomy has strengthened people’s confidence in the following four aspects:
First, it strengthens the confidence in the system of “One Country, Two Systems”.
This great invention of Mr. Deng Xiaoping is the best solution to the historical questions of Hong Kong and Macao.
In the past 20 years, “One Country, Two Systems”, “Macao people administering Macao”, a high degree of autonomy and the Basic Law of the Macao SAR have gained popular support in Macao. They have been fully implemented.
The constitutional order of Macao is respected and safeguarded.
The overall jurisdiction of the Central Government over Macao is effectively exercised.
The high degree of autonomy in the SAR is fully upheld.
Macao compatriots enjoy extensive freedom and democracy in accordance with law.
Macao has also engaged in increasingly closer exchanges and cooperation with the mainland. It has benefited from the major opportunities of the development in the mainland, and in turn made positive contribution to the reform, opening up and modernisation of the mainland. Macao’s identification with and affection for the motherland is increasing. The bond of the Chinese nation is growing stronger.
In a word, in the past 20 years, Macao has demonstrated to the world its unique success of “One Country, Two Systems”.
Second, Macao’s success strengthens the confidence in a path that leads to prosperity and stability.
With the backing of the mainland and with the world at its doorsteps, Macao has taken full advantage of the “Two Systems” and displayed to the world the vitality of a development path with Macao characteristics.
Before the handover, Macao attracted seven to eight million tourists per year. In 1999, the size of Macao’s economy was only 6.491 billion US dollars, and per capita GDP was about 15.1 thousand US dollars.
In the past 20 years, Macao has seen
rapid economic growth,
constant improvement in people’s wellbeing,
social harmony and stability,
progress in all undertakings,
and steadily expanding external exchanges.
In 2018, the economic volume of Macao reached 54.54 billion US dollars, with per capita GDP standing at 82.6 thousand US dollars. Macao has become one of the richest regions in Asia and the world over. This year, the city of a little over 300 thousand workforce welcomed 35.8 million tourists. In particular, the number of tourists from China’s mainland has soared since the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was opened in October 2018.
In the past 20 years, Macao and the mainland have matched their respective strengths, engaged in mutually-beneficial cooperation and achieved common development. This development path has led to increasing success.
Third, Macao’s success strengthens the confidence in cultural integration between China and the West.
Macao is a place where Chinese and Western cultures meet and learn from each other:
Both Chinese and Western cuisines are on offer, from Cantonese dim sum to Portuguese delicacies;
The landscape of the city is a fusion of traditional Lingnan-style dwellings of Southern China, old Portugal-style buildings and modern edifices;
And different ethnic groups live in harmony.
The greatest charm of Macao comes from its cultural diversity.
Due to language, historical and cultural connections, Macao is uniquely positioned as a bridge linking China and the Portuguese-speaking countries and regions with a total population of 260 million.
Macao is home to the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries. Today, five ministerial-level meetings have been held, which greatly boosted business cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries. In 2018, trade between the two sides reached 147.354 billion US dollars, increasing by 25.31% year-on-year.
In the past 20 years, Macao has been leading the trend of cultural diversity. Different civilisations coexist in harmony and learn from each other.
Fourth, Macao’s success strengthens the confidence in the basic norms governing international relations.
These basic norms are: mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. It is the bedrock of China-Portugal relationship.
Forty years ago, it was in line with these basic norms that China and Portugal properly settled the question of Macao. This has set a good example of how different countries could settle historical problems through friendly consultation.
In the past 40 years since then, China and Portugal have continued to respect each other and treat each other as equals. This has enabled China-Portugal relations to keep reaching new heights and making progress.
Thanks to our concerted efforts, Macao has ceased to be an issue between China and Portugal. It has served as a bridge linking China and Portugal and has been a highlight of the friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Macao has been a huge success; it has shown how we worked together closely and achieved win-win results.
Your Excellency, please allow me to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to you and through you to the Portuguese Government and pay tribute to the Portuguese people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The past 20 years have seen times change and witnessed strenuous efforts made. However, no matter how things change in the world, the future of Macao and the mainland is always closely connected. Macao will always have the support of the motherland and will always be ready to embrace the world.
As socialism with Chinese characteristics enters a new era, the great cause of “One Country, Two Systems” also enters a new era. To write a new chapter of the success of “One Country, Two Systems” in Macao in this new era, we must pool our strengths in the following three aspects:
First, we must join hands and remain committed to “One Country, Two Systems”.
“One Country, Two Systems” is a basic national policy of China. This system is also the greatest strength of Macao. The development of Macao in the past 20 years fully proves that this system is effective and has the support of the people.
Macao must remain committed to the principle of “One Country” and respect the differences of “Two Systems”.
It must uphold the authority of the Central Government and at the same time safeguard its high degree of autonomy.
It can continue to count on the support from the mainland and strive to increase its own competitiveness.
Macao has unique strengths. By staying committed to “One Country” and taking advantage of “Two Systems”, Macao will become a best example of China’s further opening up and high-quality development.
Second, we should work together to support Macao in integrating into the overall development of the nation.
The system of “One Country, Two Systems” enables such integration, which provides the driving force for Macao to explore new room for development. As China opens its market wider to the world, Macao’s status and role will only be strengthened, instead of weakened.
At the moment, lottery and tourism are the economic pillars of Macao. This industrial structure needs diversification. Going forward, the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will offer golden opportunities for Macao to build a diverse economy. Macao should seize these opportunities to benefit from the overall development of the nation and become an important stronghold for China’s two-way opening up.
Third, we must stand together against interference by external forces.
The success of Macao is the success of the principle of non-interference. In the interest of enduring prosperity and stability in Macao, China and Portugal should remain committed to this principle.
This is the only way to make sure that Macao will continue to serve as a bridge and promote the trade, people-to-people and cultural connectivity between China and Portugal, and between China and the West.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China, we cannot help but feel deep regret at what is happening in Hong Kong.
There are always certain forces in the world who hate to see China developing smoothly or “One Country, Two Systems” succeed in Hong Kong. In the past six months since the “amendment incident”, some Western officials and legislators have interfered blatantly in Hong Kong affairs, which are internal affairs of China. Their actions are in total disregard of international law and the basic norms governing international relations.
They even adopted the so-called “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” to show support for anti-China forces and violent offenders whose only intention is to destabilise Hong Kong, and who have done nothing but trampling on rule of law, disrupting public order, undermining the prosperity and stability in Hong Kong, challenging the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”, and pushing Hong Kong into an extremely dangerous situation.
Last month, President Xi Jinping stated China’s position on Hong Kong. He emphasized that the Chinese Government remains unwavering in its determination to safeguard China’s national sovereignty, security and development interests, implement “One Country, Two Systems”, and oppose any interference by external forces in Hong Kong affairs.
This important statement is the most authoritative voice from the Central Government of China on the current situation and the future of Hong Kong.
Macao is a beacon for safeguarding the principle of non-interference. We hope it will light up the path forward for Hong Kong. We hope it will enable people from all walks of life to see clearly the danger of external interference so that they will join hands to oppose and resist such interference, and help Hong Kong end violence, restore order and return to the track of prosperity and stability at an early date.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
An ancient Chinese masterpiece Huainanzi had these words, “Different rivers originating from different sources all run to the same ocean; different schools of thought offering different solutions all aim at achieving peace and order.”
I am confident that with the firm support of the Central Government of China, under the strong leadership of the Chief Executive and Macao SAR Government, and with the concerted efforts of Macao people and international support, Macao will embrace an even brighter future!
I have confidence in both Macao and Hong Kong, one being the “garden on the sea” and the other the “oriental pearl”. I sincerely hope the twin cities will once again take off side by side and write a new chapter of the success of “One Country, Two Systems”!
Now, may I propose a toast
To the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to China,
To the success of the great innovation of “One Country, Two Systems”,
To the sustained, sound and steady development of China-Portugal and China-UK relationships, and
To the health of the guests and friends present tonight.