During the region’s 20th anniversary of being returned from Portugal to the People’s Republic, China President Xi Jinping applauded Macau for its economic prosperity and sovereign stability.
Portugal handed Macau back to China on December 20, 1999, after 442 years of rule. It happened just two years after Britain conceded sovereignty of Hong Kong. Hong Kong and Macau together, are China’s two Special Administrative Regions (SAR). However, in 2019, they’ve acted much differently.
Both areas enjoy their freedoms not afforded to inhabitants on the mainland under communist control. However, Xi says, Macau is a more trusted partner and representative of what the country calls its “one country, two systems” arrangement.
At the East Asian Games Dome near the Cotai Strip, Xi said, “ The long-term prosperity and stability of Macau will, with firm determination, never be shaken by temporary twists and turns.”
Xi added, “The will of the Chinese government and the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests is as firm as a rock. We will never allow any external forces to interfere in Hong Kong and Macau affairs.”
The 20th anniversary overlapped with the inauguration of new Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng. Since Macau’s return, Ho is just the third chief executive, and will serve a five-year term with the possibility for one re-election.
As reported by casino.org, Macau decided to end Hong Kong billionaire Stanley Ho’s grip on casino gambling and invite in five additional operators, just three years after its handover from Portugal.
The move would create the richest gambling hub on the planet, provide a stable economic foundation for the region’s 670,000 residents, and helped transform the area once riddled with crime into one of the safest locales in Asia.
The Macau government has collected $13 billion in casino taxes through November this year alone.
The enclave is set to become the richest place on Earth in terms of per-capita gross domestic product next year, according to The International Monetary Fund (IMF). Macau had an average per-capita GDP of $122,489 in 2018.
Hong Kong has been in a state of confusion since June, when an extradition bill was being contemplated which would have allowed fugitives to be deported to mainland China and Taiwan for prosecution. Tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens poured down the streets to protest the legislation, which they considered as China’s way of gaining additional control of the SAR and risking its autonomy and civil liberties.
Xi thinks that outside forces were behind the misunderstanding, including the United States and Britain, countries which want to weaken China.
Xi declared, “The will of the Chinese government and the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests is as firm as a rock. We will never allow any external forces to interfere in Hong Kong and Macau affairs.”
Xi concluded, “The great motherland will always strongly back Macau.” The President encouraged more involvement with the mainland; however, didn’t announce details on that goal.