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Macao SAR @ 20: "One Country, Two Systems" Full of Vitality

On December 26, 2019, Nigerian leading newspaper Leadership published an article written by Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr. ZHOU Pingjian. The full text goes as follows:

On December 20th 1999, the Chinese Government resumed sovereignty over Macao and the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) 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 July 1st 1997.

Macao, as part of the Chinese territory, was gradually occupied by Portugal from mid-16th century. It is the earliest foothold for western powers to trade with China in the Age of Great Voyages, as well as the forefront of the collision and fusion of Chinese and western civilizations. After more than 400 years of vicissitudes, Macao returned to the embrace of the motherland China and embarked on a promising path of common development with the mainland, marking a new chapter in Macao’s history.

Since the return of sovereignty to the motherland, Macao has achieved rapid economic growth, steadily improved people's livelihood, and enjoyed social harmony and stability. The SAR has been making remarkable progress on all fronts. And "One Country, Two Systems" is showing strong vitality in Macao. As President Xi Jinping said at the Meeting Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Macao’s Return to the Motherland and the Inaugural Ceremony of the Fifth-Term Government of the Macao SAR on December 20th 2019, "Over the past 20 years, Macao has achieved the best ever development in history."

The last 20 years have seen Macao has firmly established a constitutional order based on the Constitution and the Macao Basic Law, and improved its governing system. The residents widely enjoy law-based rights and freedom, as Macao has seen an orderly development in its democratic political system. The SAR has ensured the central authorities exercise overall jurisdiction while accurately implementing the high degree of autonomy. Macao has become one of the safest cities in the world since its return to the motherland, by swiftly tackling security problems that existed before the return.

The last 20 years have seen Macao's economy growing by leaps and bounds. 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 2018, the economic volume of Macao reached 54.54 billion US dollars; with per capita GDP standing at 82.6 thousand US dollars. Its GDP has increased by over 8 times in aggregate terms and over 5 times in per capita terms. The fiscal surplus of the SAR has soared by 193 times, and its foreign exchange reserve by 6.2 times. Macao has become one of the richest regions in Asia and the world's second highest in per capita terms.

The last 20 years have seen Macao's people leading a more comfortable life. Macao's long-term mechanisms in five sectors of social security, housing, health-care, education and talent cultivation have been strengthened. Its law and order have been significantly improved. Unemployment rate has dropped from 6.4% in 1999 to 1.8% now, and the average life expectancy has reached 83.7 years which is among the highest in the world.

The last 20 years have seen Macao growing into an international metropolis with robust external exchanges. The number of tourists to Macao has soared from 7.4 million in 1999 to 35.8 million last year. In particular, the number of tourists from China's mainland has soared since the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was opened in October 2018. Today, Macao passport holders can travel to 144 countries and regions visa-free or with visa-upon-arrival, compared with only three such destinations in 1999. Macao is currently member of 120 international organizations, a big jump from 51 of two decades ago. In the name of "Macao, China", it has signed dozens of bilateral trade or investment agreements with other countries or regions.

Macao's remarkable development achievements show that "One Country, Two Systems" is successful and right. As "One Country, Two Systems" provides the fundamental prerequisite and safeguard for stability, prosperity and greater development of Macao and Hong Kong, it must be firmly upheld and maintained. This is a shared responsibility and mission of the central government, the SAR governments and the entire Chinese people, including people in Macao and Hong Kong.

"One Country, Two Systems" is a great initiative pursued by China, which is the best solution to the historical questions of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. It offers a new way of thinking and a new formula to the international community in addressing similar issues. It is another contribution made by the Chinese nation to promoting global peace and development. And it embodies the Chinese vision which values openness and inclusiveness.

Recently, the Fourth Plenum of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China recognized “One Country, Two Systems” as a prominent strength of China's national system and governance, as it is conducive to the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong and Macao and to the peaceful reunification of China. We have full confidence in this policy and will stay committed to it.

It should be noted that "One country" is the fundamental basis from which "two systems" becomes possible. "One country" must, therefore, be safeguarded for "two systems" to be successful. Questioning the necessity of "One Country" constitutes a challenge to China's sovereignty and its territorial integrity. It is also an affront to the success Macao has enjoyed since its return to the motherland. By staying committed to "One Country" and taking advantage of "Two Systems", Macao, with a strong sense of patriotism, will become a best example of China's further opening up and high-quality development.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese nation is making big strides toward rejuvenation. This historical process promises Macao and Hong Kong an even brighter future.

However, there are always certain forces in the world who hate to see China developing smoothly or "One Country, Two Systems" succeed in Hong Kong. During the past six months, 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 destabilize 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.

As President Xi stressed at the Celebration in Macao on December 20th, "After the return of Hong Kong and Macao to the motherland, the affairs of the two special administrative regions are completely China's internal affairs, which need no finger-pointing from any external forces." The Chinese government has unswerving determination to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests, implement "one country, two systems" policy and oppose any external force in interfering in Hong Kong's affairs.

Today's China is no longer the weak and poor country of a century ago that fell prey to bullying and humiliation. It has full confidence and capability to prevail over all challenges, crush every attempt to undermine the reunification of the motherland and national unity or to contain China's development and progress. No forces can ever stop China's historic process of rejuvenation toward a more prosperous and stronger nation.

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