Spotlight: World experts laud Macao's great success after its return to motherland

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World experts have spoken positively about Macao's impressive achievements after its return to the motherland and the important role that the principle of "one country, two systems" has played in the city's development.

As Saturday marks the 15th anniversary of Macao's return to China, the world once again focuses its attention on the region, amazed by its incredible achievements in the last 15 years.

In an exclusive interview with Wu Wuhua, president of the Chaozhou Guild in France, said the success of the "one country, two systems" principle in Macao has set an example for Hong Kong.

Wu first congratulated Macao for the 15th anniversary of its return to the motherland, saying the government of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the people of Macao have conducted various activities within the framework of such principles.

Xulio Rios, director of Spain's website of the Observatory of Chinese Politics, said that Macao has experienced great economic success over the past 15 years.

Since China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Macao in 1999, the region's economy has grown by over 550 percent, with current unemployment rate at a low of 1.7 percent. This year Macao is expected to beat Switzerland in terms of GDP per capita, ranking fourth in the world, he added.

The indices of public confidence in the authorities indicate the government's high popularity above 50 percent and even 60 percent, with majority of local residents in favor of the region's autonomy under the principle of "one country, two systems", said Rios.

Augusto Soto, a scholar with the Dialogue with China Project based in Spain, said: "I remember well the ceremony of Macao's return to Beijing in 1999. It was a historic event of great significance."

"A few years later...a Portuguese official told me that he was impressed by the strategic vision that Chinese negotiators had shown. And this strategic vision has been demonstrated in practice in recent years," he said.

In the 15 years governed by the SAR government, Macao has undergone major changes as a result of economic development and has also continued to maintain its characteristics and unique social balance. Its per capita income has increased from 15,000 U.S. dollars to 87,000 dollars, taking an extraordinary lead in Asia, said Soto.

Meanwhile, Macao is diversifying its productive activity and tries to depend less on casinos, while the gambling industry has dropped in the past year and other sectors can be supported by monetary reserves of the government of Macao, which will facilitate social stability, he noted.

Foreign observers agree that the development formula of "one country, two systems" has worked efficiently in this former Portuguese colony over the past 15 years. It has maintained harmony in such a varied and dynamic society and kept it open to the rest of the world, he said.

Alessandra Lavagnino, a sinologist and professor of Chinese language and culture at the University of Milan, told Xinhua in a recent interview that "from a dozy city, Macao has transformed into an international metropolis".

"China's 'one country, two systems' policy has generated more wealth for everybody and allowed the city to tap its potentials," she added.

Romeo Orlandi, vice president of the Bologna-based think-tank Osservatorio Asia, said he has recently visited Macao and was impressed by the positive results produced by the "one country, two systems" policy.

The Macao SAR has left behind the image of a city "laid down on the past" to "enter globalization with full rights through China," Orlandi noted.

Macao has established with the motherland a "win-win" relationship from which both have benefited, he added.

Echoing Orlandi's view, Laura De Giorgi, a professor of history of modern and contemporary China at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, said Macao's experience over the past 15 years "is universally considered a success story."

The local government has set the conditions for a "significant improvement of social protection and the education system in the region," said De Giorgi.

Qian Feng, vice director of the Chinese-language newspaper Asian Daily in Thailand, said that the practice of "one country, two systems" has proved to be a very wise one, as it has not only guaranteed smooth transition in the process of Macao's return to the motherland, but also demonstrated the inclusiveness and diversity of the Chinese culture.

Over the past 15 years, the central government has adhered to the policy of "one country, two systems", with no interference in Macao's economic development and political system, which has enabled it to maintain a rapid economic growth, he added.

"In the meantime, the prosperity of the Chinese mainland has created great many opportunities for Macao, with the mainland consistently playing a supportive role," Qian said. Endi

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