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UPDATED: December 26, 2014 NO. 1 JANUARY 1, 2015
A Welcome Reunion
Fifteen years after Macao returned to China, life has become more beautiful
By Wang Hairong

INAUGURATION: Chui Sai On takes an oath as the Chief Executive of Macao Special Administrative Region in front of Chinese President Xi Jinping, on December 20, 2014 (LI TAO)

Inside the Beijing Exhibition Center, visitors marvelled at an exhibition marking the 15th anniversary of Macao's return to China. Red carpet that had been rolled out in front of the main building brightened up the chilly late afternoon of December 20, 2014, adding a festive touch.

Inside the exhibition center, pictures and charts mounted on the walls yielded glimpses into some exciting historic moments since Macao's return to China on December 20, 1999, as well as its social and economic developments, daily life and landmark buildings.

A hallway was decorated to resemble a street in Macao, with road signs showing directions to places such as the Ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral. Imitation street lamps were set up, with pots of flowers dangling from them. An image of blue sky and flitting white clouds were projected onto a screen placed overhead. The floor was covered with wave-shaped grey and white tiles typical of Macao's streets.

The exhibition is one of a series of activities to mark the anniversary. The activities climaxed with President Xi Jinping's visit to Macao during December 19-20 to attend celebrations and inaugurate the special administrative region's (SAR's) fourth-term government under the leadership of Chief Executive Chui Sai On.

Xi approved Chui's work in his first five-year term, and pledged the Central Government's continuous support for the SAR Government.

In his address at the anniversary ceremony, Xi hailed the successful implementation in Macao of the principle of "one country, two systems." He said that Macao enjoys orderly progress in democracy, fast economic growth, rising living standards, social harmony and stability, and it also has increasingly closer exchanges and cooperation with the mainland, sharing the opportunities and benefits brought by development of the motherland.

Chui vowed in his inaugural speech that he would fully and correctly implement the "one country, two systems" policy and spare no effort for an appropriate diversification of Macao's economy.

Economic boom

Macao, a city with an estimated population of more than half a million and an area around 31 square km, is one of the most affluent regions in the world.

World Bank data show that in 2013, the SAR's per-capita GDP ranked second in Asia and the fourth in the world, trailing behind only Luxembourg, Norway and Qatar. From 1999 to 2013, the region's per-capita GDP grew from $13,908 to $91,376.

During the period, Macao's GDP grew at an average annual real rate of 16.2 percent, rendering it one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Its fiscal revenue increased at an average annual rate of 18.2 percent. Its unemployment rate dropped from 6.3 percent before the return to the current 1.7 percent, according to Xinhua News Agency.

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