Located west of the Pearl River estuary in Guangdong Province, 40 nautical miles west of Hong Kong, Macao’s 24 sq km of area comprise the Macao Peninsula, Taipa Island and Coloane Island. Macao has been a part of Chinese territory since ancient times. In 1553, the Portuguese bribed local government officials in Guangdong to gain permission to drop anchor in Macao’s harbor and engage in trade. In 1557, the Portuguese began to settle nearby. In the period following the Opium War of 1840, taking advantage of the weakness of the Qing government, the Portuguese successively seized Taipa and Coloane islands to the south of the Macao Peninsula.
The government of the PRC has consistently maintained that at the appropriate time a peaceful, negotiated solution to this problem inherited from the past should be found. Between June 1986 and March 1987, delegations from the two governments held four rounds of talks. Finally, on April 13, 1987, the “Joint Declaration on the Question of Macao by the Governments of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Portugal” was formally signed in Beijing.
On December 20, 1999, the Chinese and Portuguese governments held a hand-over ceremony as scheduled in accordance with the “Joint Declaration on the Question of Macao,” marking the resumption of sovereignty by China over Macao. At the same time, the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR) was formally established, and the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region, adopted in March 1993 at the First Session of the Eighth NPC, came into effect. The Chinese government implements the basic policies of “one country, two systems,” “administration of Macao by the Macao people” and “a high degree of autonomy” in Macao, as stipulated by the Basic Law. The MSAR enjoys a high degree of autonomy, and its political, economic, cultural and educational systems are similar to those of the HKSAR.
Since the founding of the MSAR, Ho Hau-Wah, the first Chief Executive, and the government of the MSAR have scrupulously abided by their duties, promoting Macao’s economic development and social stability and making the situation of public order much better than the past.