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Macao chief vows to diversify economy

By ATLAS SHAO in Hong Kong | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-21 07:02

A flag-raising ceremony is held on Wednesday to mark the 24th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland, at the Golden Lotus Square in the Macao Special Administrative Region. CHEONG KAM KA/XINHUA

The Macao Special Administrative Region will accelerate efforts to diversify its economy and integrate into the nation's overall development, the leader of the Macao SAR government said on Wednesday.

Ho Iat-seng, chief executive of the Macao SAR, made the remark while addressing a reception marking the 24th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland and the establishment of the SAR.

Ho outlined his plan for the coming year, saying that the SAR government will focus on consolidating economic recovery, diversifying its economy and improving people's livelihoods. The government will continuously advance the successful practice of "one country, two systems" with Macao characteristics, seek progress with stability and make greater efforts to safeguard national security, he said.

Ho also said that Macao will speed up construction of the Guangdong-Macao In-depth Cooperation Zone on Hengqin Island, which is part of the neighboring city of Zhuhai in Guangdong province, promote high-quality economic development and fully leverage the SAR's advantages to better integrate into overall national development.

Next year will mark the beginning of the implementation of the SAR's first development plan for appropriate economic diversification.

The plan, called "1+4", was announced by Ho in his latest policy address. It sets out five key areas that the city aims to concentrate on, and is scheduled to run through 2028. Under the plan, Macao aims to achieve economic diversification by focusing on the further development of the tourism and leisure sector while promoting core industries — health and wellness, modern finance, high-tech, exhibitions and commerce, culture and sports.

The city will also revitalize old districts to drive economic development in the community, support gaming companies in developing nongaming businesses, introduce more international events and enrich local thematic amusement products, according to the plan.

Ho, who visited Beijing on Monday to report to President Xi Jinping Macao's current situation and the work of the SAR government, said the central government has affirmed the SAR government's work and issued instructions on future projects, which showed the way forward for the city and bolstered its confidence.

Macao's main economic indicators are improving, Ho noted. Despite the impact of COVID-19, the SAR has shown a positive trend of rapid economic recovery, social stability and steady progress, he said.

In the first three quarters of this year, Macao's GDP rose 77.7 percent year-on-year, and has recovered to more than 70 percent of the figure for the same period in 2019.

Macao had more than 2.75 million visitor arrivals in October, which was 4.8 times the figure for October last year. From January to October, more than 22.68 million visitor arrivals were recorded, or 4.6 times the figure for the same period last year, according to the Macao SAR government.

As of November, the SAR's unemployment rate fell to 2.9 percent and the underemployment rate to 1.8 percent.

Meanwhile, to celebrate the 24th anniversary of Macao's return to the motherland, the SAR organized a number of activities on Wednesday.

The SAR government held a flag-raising ceremony at the Golden Lotus Square at 8 am, which was officiated by Ho and attended by over 520 guests, including representatives of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao SAR, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Macao SAR and the People's Liberation Army Garrison in Macao.

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