Macao Chief Executive Chui Sai On has pledged to give priority to comprehensively implementing the "One country, Two systems" policy and the Basic Law, which he said would be the top principle for his governance of Macao in the next five years.
"The achievements in Macao have highlighted the great vitality of the 'One country, Two systems' policy," Chui told Xinhua on the eve of the 15th anniversary of Macao's return to China.
Chui, 57, will be sworn in as the fourth-term chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) on December 20 after winning a reelection on August 31.
"The past 15 years since Macao's return to the motherland is the fastest-growing period in Macao," he said, citing a rapidly developing economy, ever-improving livelihood, and a harmonious and stable society in the region.
The SAR's gross domestic product (GDP) reached 413.47 billion patacas ($51.76 billion) last year from 50.27 billion patacas in 1999, with an average annual growth of 16.2 percent. The GDP per capita jumped from $15,000 in 1999 to $87,000 in 2003, which ranks the second highest in Asia and fourth in the world.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.3 percent upon Macao's return to China in 1999 to 1.7 percent. The average monthly income has tripled to 15,000 patacas from 4,920 patacas and the life expectancy of local citizens has risen from 80.7 years in 1999 to 85, the second longest in the world.
The chief executive attributed the rapid development in Macao to an accurate understanding and comprehensive implementation of the "One country, Two systems" policy, and the healthy development of relations between the central government and the Macao SAR.
"The Mainland is always a strong supporter for Macao, and I believe the backing will continue in the future," Chui said.
He appreciated the support from the Central Government and other provinces and autonomous regions to Macao, by such means as the Mainland and Macao Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, the Guangdong-Macao cooperation framework agreement, and promotion of Macao as a world center for tourism and leisure envisaged in the Central Government's 12th five-year plan for socio-economic development, among others.
Chui believed that Macao can properly handle the relationship between "One country" and "Two systems" largely due to the local citizens' tradition and values of "loving the country and loving Macao."
"Most of the Macao people are fully aware that Macao is a special administrative region under China's sovereignty. The SAR's interests can be safeguarded only when the country's interests safeguarded," he said.
Over the past five years, Chui has been trying to diversify Macao's economy by lessening the SAR's heavy dependence on the casino gaming and developing other industries of cultural creativity, convention and exhibition, as well as tourism featuring hotels, food and restaurants, retailing and cultural heritage.
"The regional cooperation between Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macao will be an opportunity for Macao to develop a diversified economy," he said.
The chief executive acknowledged that the shortage of land and human resources are the major challenges facing Macao.
However, a plan, approved by the Central Government in 2009 for the Macao SAR to reclaim 350 hectares of land from the sea, has been finalized, according to Chui. The land will be used for public housing rather than the gaming industry.
A talents development committee, chaired by Chui, was also established earlier this year to look for ways to increase the number of people undertaking tertiary education and fill gaps in the labor market.
Realizing his great responsibility as chief executive of the Macao SAR, Chui said, "We will join hands with various social communities to build a harmonious Macao that keeps stable development."
(Xinhua News Agency December 14, 2014)