It’s been nearly five years since state leader Xi Jinping’s last visit to Macau, when the city was engulfed in the global financial crisis. Today, the gambling hub has survived and thrived, but it is at another critical juncture.
When meeting with MSAR’s top government officials, lawmakers, political leaders and dignitaries last Friday, president Xi stressed that the city still faces a grim situation for accomplishing its given task of development, and that deep-
rooted contradictions have begun to show.
“Both the internal and external conditions for the development of Macau have undergone profound changes,” he said. “We still need to further consider how to run Macau’s economy well, as we always say ‘Be mindful of potential dangers when in times of peace’, or, ‘Be prepared before the rainy days come.’”
“Our sage said that, ‘One thrives in concerns and calamity whereas perishes in ease and pleasure.’ Macau is now in a very good situation, in some aspects it’s even unmatched, but we need a sense of crisis, to solve some deep-seated issues,” he added.
The president indicated that some issues appearing now have in fact been brewing for quite some time. Using metaphorical language, he said, “it takes more than one cold day for the river to freeze three-feet deep.”
Ahead of the new MSAR government’s inauguration, Xi also called for “more help and support” for the re-appointed Chief Executive Chui Sai On and his new leadership team, which has a number of new faces.
“Of course, it takes time for the newcomers to acquaint themselves with their new work and duties. So we need to ensure good communication and coordination among the government, relevant sectors and citizens,” he suggested.
The 15-year old SAR has seen rising public discontent in recent years over widening inequality, inadequate livelihoods and unconvincing democracy. A significant, surging number of casino workers and youths took to the streets to protest earlier this year.
“While scoring remarkable progress and achievements, Macau has its own share of problems to handle and faces numerous difficulties and challenges that must be properly managed,” acknowledged president Xi in a later speech given at the welcoming dinner.
“The important issue for Macau at present and for some time in the future is how it can make greater progress on the basis of past achievements and maintain long-term prosperity and stability,” he added.
Although still the unrivaled gaming capital, the city has suffered a progressive slide in its dominant gaming revenue during the second half of this year. Xi Jinping suggested that Macau has “every reason to feel confident,” but is in need of a long-term development plan that sees things from a holistic perspective.
“One saying in Macau has it that ‘A table is not big enough to put on a good show.’ But what Macau has achieved in the past 15 years proves that with the right path, good policies, flexible moves and concerted efforts, a great show can unfold even on a table,” he stressed.
But Xi also left a vote of confidence in Macau’s development and the region’s government. Speaking during a gala dinner at the Macau Dome on Friday evening, the president said that Macau has made great achievements in economic and social development over the past 15 years, which is attributable to the full and correct implementation of the principle of “one country, two systems” and the Basic Law.
“Today, we see a vibrant, stable and harmonious Macau by the South China Sea with a brand new look,” said the president, adding that Macau’s progress and achievements fully demonstrate the strong vitality of the concept of “one country, two systems,” Xi said.
At the same time, he said, “we are well aware that the practice of ‘one country, two systems,’ an undertaking with no precedent, will not be plain sailing. The important issue for the region, he observed, is “how it can make greater progress on the basis of its achievements in the last 15 years and maintain long-term prosperity and stability.”
“The more progress we make, the more enterprising we become,” Xi Jinping added at the event that closed the first day of his visit to Macau.
On Friday afternoon, Peng Liyuan, wife of the president, visited a kindergarten under the Women’s General Association of Macau, in the company of Fok Wai Fun, wife of Chief Executive Chui. Peng listened with interest to kids learning “The Song of the Seven Sons,” a famous song telling how Macau’s people yearned to return to the motherland. She also joined the children in group games, helping them with basic arithmetics and watching their physical exercises. Before waving goodbye, Peng said she invited all the children to visit Beijing in future.