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Chinese mainland's support brings great changes to Macao

MACAO, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Ten years ago, people worried whether Macao's indigenous capitalism and economic system could remain "unchanged," and a decade after its return to China, people are amazed by the city's great changes.

One of the changes is that Macao becomes bigger and higher as the reclamation works have expanded the city area from 22 square km to nearly 30 km.

At the South Bay reclamation area, the lofty Macao Tower, measuring 338 m and ranking 10th among the world's skyscrapers, has become Macao's new landmark.

Other great changes include:

-- The implementation of the "Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement" (CEPA) between the Chinese mainland and the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), has enabled Macao to become an important cooperation partner in the Pearl River Delta, the former vanguard of China's economic reform, and greatly enhanced Macao's development opportunities.

-- The city has participated in 13 inter-government organizations with the name "Macao, China," and become increasingly known to the world as a bridge between China and the Portuguese-speaking world.

-- Macao has become a place with the fastest-growing economy in the world, after experiencing consecutive years of "negative growth" before it returned to China in 1999.

-- Macao is one of the few regions implementing a 15-year compulsory education.

-- Macao people's life expectancy ranks second in the world.

The above great changes show that the "one country, two systems "policy is the solid foundation for Macao's stability and prosperity.

Over the past decade, the Chinese central government unswervingly implemented the policies of "one country, two systems", "Macao people governing Macao" with a high degree of autonomy and the Basic Law.

The central government does not intervene in affairs within the autonomy of the SAR government, and fully supports the chief executive and the government to exercise administrative power, develop economy, improve people's life and promote democracy.

After the epidemic of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes (SARS) ravaged the region in 2003, the central government immediately signed the CEPA to strengthen economic ties between the mainland and Macao and allowed residents of some mainland cities to visit the region on individual tours.

With the global financial meltdown unfolding, the central government announced a package of measures to shore up Macao's economic stability.

This June, China's top legislature gave the Macao SAR jurisdiction over part of the land on Hengqin Island, assigned for a new campus for the University of Macao, the region's oldest university, under a lease for 40 years.

With the new campus, the university will be able to hold 10,000 students, which improves the local higher education service.

Moreover, the food in Macao is mainly supplied by the mainland. Even if natural disasters make transportation inconvenient, the supply never stops.

After Macao's return to China, Macao compatriots can share the glory of the motherland.

The Chinese government sticks to its promise that Macao's social and economic systems and people's lifestyle remain unchanged, its status as a free port and a separate customs territory continues to play a vital role, and its traditional gaming industry remains, after the region's return.

The picture of Macao residents practicing traditional Chinese shadow boxing beside a Baroque church is very common and reflects the harmonious cultural integration of the Chinese and Western culture.

Macao SAR Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah said earlier this month that the Basic Law was an institutional and legal guarantee of Macao's development over the past decade, a foundation of the region's laws, institutions and policies, and a source of wisdom for the SAR to overcome challenges.

Earlier this week, the 73-billion-yuan (10.7 billion U.S. dollars)construction project of the world's longest cross-sea bridge linking China's southern economic hub of Guangdong Province to Hong Kong and Macao started, a move widely expected to bring economic ties closer.

People are expecting more great development on the booming southern coastal city.



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