“One Country, Two Systems” Has Worked Out Insanely Well for Macau
In 20 years since 1999 reunification GDP rose from $6.5bn to $54bn, at an average growth of 13 percent. Its GDP per capita now 3rd highest in the world
In the two decades since it reunified with the motherland, Macao has undergone drastic changes in terms of fiscal revenue, economic growth, total GDP as well as per capita GDP.
Before Macao returned to China, it saw four consecutive years of negative economic growth. But since its reunification with the motherland, the Macao Special Administrative Region has seen its GDP increase from $6.5 billion in 1999 to $54.54 billion in 2018 and its per capita GDP jump from $15,000 to $83,000.
Also, Macao has seen its GDP grow at an average annual rate of 13 percent, with its revenue increasing more than 10 times, and unemployment rate declining to 1.8 percent in 2018.
In 2018 Macao’s per capita GDP was the highest in Asia and the third-highest in the world, while its residents’ average life expectancy was the second-highest among all economies. More important, Macao is a good example of the success of “one country, two systems”.
And as one of the four central cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area plan, Macao not only is expected to play an important role as an engine of growth of the area, but also has got an opportunity to strengthen and diversify its economy.
According to the Greater Bay Area’s plan, the SAR is set to develop into a global tourism and leisure center, as well as an economic and trade cooperation platform between the Chinese mainland and Portuguese-speaking countries. So Macao has to give full play to its advantages, including its role as a bridge connecting the mainland with Portuguese-speaking countries, to facilitate the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Macao should also establish a special offshore yuan center, especially to explore business opportunities in Portuguese-speaking countries, and develop as a business-cum-leisure tourism center, an international convention and exhibition hub, and a global dialogue platform.
Macao is regarded by the World Trade organization as one of the most open economies for trade and investment thanks partly to its free port, low tax rate and close connection with Portuguese-speaking countries. With the completion of infrastructure construction in the Greater Bay Area such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the SAR’s custom clearance system has become even more efficient. In the future therefore Macao should develop an integrated “business-cum-leisure” industrial chain along with Hong Kong to expedite the construction of the Greater Bay Area business backend market.
Macao’s “business-cum-leisure” industrial chain should integrate the advantages of Hong Kong as an international financial center, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macao belt as a scientific and technological innovation corridor and the high-end equipment manufacturing industry of the Pearl River Delta region to jointly establish an international derivative industrial circle for the Greater Bay Area.
The Macao SAR should also play its due role in helping integrate its convention and exhibition sector with the Pearl River Delta region’s industrial clusters.
As the world’s leading casino hub before the rise of Macao, Las Vegas promoted the convention and exhibition sector to achieve diversified industrial development. As a result, the revenue of the exhibition industry has exceeded that of the gaming industry in Las Vegas.
Actually, in recent years, the Macao SAR government has also taken important measures to transform the city into a regional exhibition center. And the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, being one of the most dynamic city clusters in the world, will create huge opportunities for Macao to develop its exhibition sector. Compared with Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region, the convention and exhibition sector in Macao can enjoy the advantage of relatively low operation cost but high internationalization exposure.
Moreover, the SAR should enhance interaction with international organizations to build a platform for China to participate in global governance, by using its free port to advantage in order to attract more global organizations to set up branches in the city, which will further enhance cooperation and communication between China and international organizations.
Source: China Daily
Macau to Celebrate Chinese Rule as Hong Kong Seethes
The former Portuguese colony of Macau will this week celebrate 20 years since its return to China, with Beijing’s leaders praising a pliant city that has grown rich on gambling and deference to authoritarian rule.
The jubilation will be in contrast to the mood in neighbouring Hong Kong, the only other region run under the “one country, two systems” model which has endured six months of often violent protests.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend Friday’s (Dec 20) anniversary celebrations in Macau, where the population of 700,000 has expressed little of the Hong Kong-style dissent.
“(Macau) is like the good boy in a family,” Larry So, a Hong Kong-born social scientist who taught and has retired in Macau, told AFP.
“Good boys always get candies, and the good boy may find his life pretty comfortable.”
Macau’s skyline and economy have changed beyond recognition since four centuries of Portuguese rule ended in 1999, with glittering casinos the backbone of the city’s dramatic rise.
As the only place in China where gambling is allowed, Macau’s GDP has soared from US$6.4 billion in 1999 to more than $55 billion.
Per capita GDP is the second highest in the world behind oil-rich Qatar and its casinos now rake in each week the same as Las Vegas makes in a month.
“Since the handover the living standards have seen a big improvement,” secondary school teacher Celia Chong told AFP last week as her students searched for tourists to fill out a questionnaire.
Chong cited generous government subsidies and handouts, as well as opportunities to work on the mainland.
“I think as a resident in Macau, the handover anniversary will be a happy, big event,” she said.
Shotah Zhang said his family’s business of selling egg tarts to tourists had boomed.
“Before it was a very quiet little town, but in the past 20 years, we have had a big change,” he told AFP.
Nearly 36 million tourists visited Macau in 2018, the vast majority from mainland China.
The “one country, two systems” models for Macau and Hong Kong allows the cities greater freedoms and liberties than those on the mainland.
The people of Hong Kong, a former British colony that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, have consistently pushed to protect or maximise those freedoms.
Hong Kong has a bustling free press, a largely independent judiciary and an influential group of pro-democracy lawmakers.
These democratic factors culminated in the tumultuous events of the past six months, in which hundreds of thousands of people have taken to Hong Kong’s streets demanding universal suffrage.
A newly radicalised youth has added a dangerous sub-layer to the movement, leading to increasingly violent battles with riot police.
Just a one-hour ferry ride away in Macau, there has been no such opposition to Chinese rule.
Its politicians have long since passed pro-Beijing security laws, whereas in Hong Kong failed attempts to do so have triggered the unrest.
In the run-up to the anniversary, senior figures of China’s Communist Party praised Macau for embracing the way Beijing wants to implement “one country, two systems”.
“Macau people have been standing fast with the core value of loving our country and Macau,” Li Zhanshu, the chairman of China’s rubber-stamp parliament, said in a speech.
“They have very strong concepts of nation and constitution.”
Li held up Macau as a model for Hong Kong, lecturing the rebellious city to better understand its relationship with China.
“For some aspects of work, the central government expects the same for Hong Kong and Macau,” he said.
But while Macau has grown rich and been politically stable in the 20 years of Chinese rule, it has many vulnerabilities.
Although its per capita GDP is high, there is a huge rich-poor divide and almost all its economic chips are in the gambling basket.
After President Xi launched an anti-corruption drive when he came to power in 2012, Macau’s revenues nose-dived.
The city has since tried to rebrand itself as a tourism and food destination, but gambling still accounts for 80 per cent of government revenue.
Macau has a reputation as a global hub for organised crime – the US State Department lists the city as a major money-laundering destination – and prostitution is rife.
There are frustrations about overcrowding, the cost of living and Macau’s unique blend of Portuguese and Cantonese culture getting subsumed.
While anger rarely manifests as protests, frustration is there, according to Sulu Sou, one of just four pro-democracy lawmakers in the city’s semi-elected legislature.
“People want to preserve Macau’s heritage,” Sou told AFP.
“I am afraid that it’s increasingly inevitable that Macau will eventually become just another Chinese city.”