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The Chinese Mission to the EU and Macao Economic and Trade Office to the EU in Brussels Host a Reception to Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Macao's Return to China

On December 18, 2019, the Chinese Mission to the EU and the Macao Economic and Trade Office to the EU in Brussels jointly hosted a reception to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to the motherland. More than 200 people attended the event, including Chinese Ambassador to the EU Mr. Zhang Ming and his wife, Director of the Macao Economic and Trade Office to the EU Madam O Tinlin, Permanent Representative of Portugal to the EU Ambassador Nuno Brito, President of the Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce Mr. Rui Faria da Cunha, and representatives of diplomatic missions to the EU and Belgium, EU institutions, international organizations, multinational corporations, think tanks, media, and Chinese enterprises, as well as overseas Chinese communities.

Ambassador Zhang Ming delivered a speech, giving an overview of Macao’s achievements in the past two decades since its return. He said that the return of Macao to China is a big thing not only in the history of Macao, but also in the history of China-Europe relations and the whole mankind. It marks the beginning of a new era for Macao and provides useful experience for the international community in addressing similar issues. In the past two decades, Macao has made great strides in various fields, largely thanks to the full implementation of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy. The Central Government keeps to the policy of “One Country, Two Systems”, “Macao people governing Macao” and a high degree of autonomy, firmly supports the law-based governance of the SAR government, and not interferes in affairs within the SAR’s autonomy. The SAR government, while acting under the “One Country” framework, is making full use of the dividends generated by the “Two Systems”.

Ambassador Zhang pointed out that the coexistence of the “two systems” of the Chinese mainland and Macao and their success illustrate that different systems do not necessarily lead to confrontation, and rather, could lead to shared prosperity. Differences between China and the EU are natural, yet confrontation offers no way out. The history of Macau itself is a perfect example showing the strength of dialogue, mutual respect and political wisdom in resolving long-standing differences. The positive momentum of China-EU cooperation is a blessing to not only China and the EU, but also to the world. Next year marks the 45th anniversary of China-EU diplomatic ties. With joint efforts, China-EU relations will achieve even greater progress.

Ms. O Tinlin said that in the past 20 years, the Macau SAR government has comprehensively implemented the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, including “Macao people governing Macao” and the high degree of autonomy. It has persistently adhered to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Macao SAR. She emphasized that with the aid of the Central Government’s favorable policies, Macao has weathered through the international financial crisis and catastrophic damage by natural disasters, and made remarkable progress in economic and social development, proving the success of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy. Macao will benefit from the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which will definitely bring more opportunities to Macao.

Ambassador Nuno Brito said that the handover of Macao to China twenty years ago was a historic moment in the history of Macao. He said it is great to see how far Macao has come. The “One Country, Two Systems” policy has laid a solid foundation for Macao’s economic and social development. Macao’s unique history and culture has also made it a bridge between China and Portugal as well as other Portuguese-speaking countries. Over the past 20 years, Portugal-China relations have developed rapidly, with frequent high-level visits, mutual understanding and mutual respect. Portugal is willing to work with China for shared prosperity, using Macao as the bridge between the two sides. As a member of the EU, Portugal is also willing to make greater contribution to the advancement of EU-China relations.

Mr. Rui Faria da Cunha recalled the eight years he spent in Macau and his personal engagement in the historic moment of Macao’s return. He said that before the return of Macao, he had worried about Macao’s future and doubted whether Macao’s system and local people’s way of life would be able to continue. However, this doubt was removed from his mind in the following years as he saw the Macao SAR’s successful efforts to preserve the local cultural heritage and the peace and contentment enjoyed by Portuguese migrants and local residents. Now Macao has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and is on track to become the richest place in the world (measured by per capita GDP). Mr. Cunha said he is amazed by Macao’s development and the eight years he spent in Macao were one of the happiest years of his life.

At the reception, Ambassador Zhang Ming, his wife, and other guests saw the photo exhibition in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Macao’s return to the motherland. The guests spoke highly of the remarkable achievements made by Macao since its return and recognized the success of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy. They said that the successful handling of Macao’s return could provide inspiration for international community in addressing similar issues. As China further opens up its economy and advances the development plan of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Macao will definitely embrace a brighter future.

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