Commentary: Kudos to “one country, two systems” with Macao characteristics

People visit the Golden Lotus Square in Macao, south China, Dec. 13, 2019. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

MACAO, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) — Macao will embrace the 20th anniversary of returning to the motherland on Friday. This is a triumphant moment for the extraordinarily vibrant region to celebrate after years of endeavor to successfully implement “one country, two systems.”

On Dec. 20, 1999, the Chinese government resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Macao and announced the official establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China.

Prior to its return to China, Macao was mired in sluggish development, social instability and uncertainty. With the staunch support of the central government and the mainland, Macao has achieved stellar performance in the past 20 years as a vigorous economy with stable and harmonious social relations, steadily developing a democratic political system, expanding international exchanges, and improving livelihood for the people. The last 20 years mark the best period in Macao’s history.

This combination photo shows an aerial view of the Macao Peninsula in south China (top, photo by Bi Yuenian, issued on Aug. 15, 1992) and an aerial view of Macao, south China on Nov. 18, 2019 (bottom, photo by Cheong Kam Ka). (Xinhua)

Macao SAR, with 670,000-strong people, is among the fastest-growing economies in the world. Its GDP surged to 444.7 billion patacas (about 55 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018 from 51.9 billion patacas in 1999. The unemployment rate dropped to 1.8 percent from 6.3 percent 20 years ago. In 2018, it received 35.8 million visitors, a leap from fewer than 8 million in 1999.

What Macao has achieved shows that “one country, two systems” principle is the best solution to the Macao question, left by history. It is also the best institutional guarantee for the long-term prosperity and stability of the region.

Encompassing two social systems in one country is an embodiment of Chinese wisdom and commitment to openness and inclusiveness. The Macao success shows that the principle can serve as a new way of thinking and a new formula to the international community in addressing similar issues.

“One country, two systems” is also a pioneering initiative that has no precedent to follow. Its application entails an evolving process.

“We must both adhere to the one-China principle and respect the differences of the two systems, both uphold the power of the central government and ensure a high degree of autonomy in the SARs, both give play to the role of the mainland as the staunch supporter of Hong Kong and Macao and increase their competitiveness,” President Xi Jinping said at the 15th anniversary of Macao’s return to the motherland in 2014. “At no time should we focus only on one side to the neglect of the other.”

In the past 20 years, Macao has struck the balance well.
It has fully and faithfully implemented “one country, two systems,” and strictly followed the Basic Law. It focuses on developing its economy and improving people’s livelihood. It upholds inclusiveness and promoting the value of “loving the motherland, loving Macao.” Macao has walked all the right steps and proved that the principle is feasible, achievable and popular with the people.

Looking to the future, Macao is expected to continue to exert its own strength, generate more impressive results, play a more instrumental role in regional and national development, and further integrate itself into the larger picture of the Chinese dream. “One country, two systems” with Macao characteristics has been victorious, and it shall be cherished and steadfastly carried on.