Premier Li Keqiang announced on Oct 10 a number of support policies for Macao on his first visit to the special administrative region, including a planned renminbi clearing center to exchange currencies with Portuguese-speaking countries.
The central government will support Macao in hosting the annual Global Tourism Economy Forum, building a series of exhibition brands with international renown, and setting up the headquarters for the China-Portuguese Speaking Countries Development Fund, the Premier said while visiting the headquarters of the Macao special administrative region government on Monday afternoon.
Premier Li also called on Macao to align its policies with national development strategies and strengthen cooperation with neighboring provinces in order to boost prosperity. He said the region should further improve the livelihood of 650,000 Macao residents through a focus on housing and public transportation.
The Premier arrived at the Macao International Airport on the morning of Oct 10 to start his three-day trip. Chui Sai On, Macao’s chief executive, led fellow officials in greeting Premier Li at the airport.
Premier Li will inspect the region and meet leaders from seven Portuguese-speaking countries at the opening ceremony of the 5th Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, which kicks off on Oct 11 and lasts two days.
“Macao has successfully practiced ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and I would like to walk around and see the changes Macao has been through for myself,” he said on his arrival at the airport.
The Premier said it has been his long-term wish to visit Macao, especially since six years ago, when he was in the neighboring city of Zhuhai to launch construction of the 50-kilometer Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which is projected to be open by the end of next year.
Macao governance was returned to China in 1999. Since 2001, Macao’s GDP has grown 6.8-fold, to 368.728 billion Macao patacas ($46 billion) in 2015, according to officials. Its per capita GDP increased to $71,984 last year, from $15,698 in 2001.
However, last year saw a drop in growth in Macao. The region is trying to diversify its economy, which has relied heavily on tourism and casinos.
The central government’s support measures are aimed at boosting Macao’s social and economic development, Premier Li told Chui. The central government will always be Macao’s strongest backer, he added.
Chui said Macao will boost cooperation with neighboring provinces and enthusiastically join the Belt and Road Initiative in order to produce greater results.
On Oct 10, he also met with the visiting Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, Cape Verde’s Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva and Guinea-Bissau’s Prime Minister Baciro Dja.
The officials, from countries where Portuguese is an official language, will attend the ministerial conference.