December 19, 2019
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
Good evening. Today, we are gathered here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to China.
Two decades ago, the Chinese government resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Macao. Since then, Macao has opened a new era of "One Country Two Systems", "Macao people governing Macao" and a high degree of autonomy.
Two decades later, Macao is in its prime. This beautiful city nicknamed "land of lotus" is thriving, just like a blooming lotus flower.
Today's Macao is a booming city with eye-catching economic performance. Over the past 20 years, Macao's growth has been one of the best in the world. Its GDP has increased by over 7.5 times in aggregate terms and almost 4.6 times in per capita terms. Compared to the figures of 1999, the fiscal surplus of the government of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) has soared by 193 times, and its foreign exchange reserve by 6.2 times.
Today's Macao is a place full of happiness. A better life for the people is always the first and foremost goal of the SAR government, which has been delivering it through persistent efforts at social security, housing, education, medical care, human resources, and disaster prevention and reduction. Unemployment rate has dropped from 6.4% in 1999 to 1.8% now, and the average life expectancy has reached 83.7 years.
Today's Macao is a hub of open and inclusive cooperation. It has joined 120 international organizations, and has been granted visa-free or visa-upon-arrival treatment by 144 countries or regions. In the name of "Macao, China", it has signed dozens of bilateral trade or investment agreements with other countries or regions.
Today's Macao is a promising land full of opportunities. It has been designated as one of the four key cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and is leading the development of this major project. Macao is striving to develop into a world center of tourism and leisure industry, and is leveraging its special role in facilitating trade between China and Portuguese-speaking countries and in promoting cultural exchanges between China and the West.