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Macao, mainland's 20-year journey of shared development

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Macao has enjoyed tremendous development since it returned to the motherland 20 years ago. Local residents have witnessed the changes.

XinhuaUpdated: December 16, 2019

It takes just half an hour for Cai Yuanbo to travel from his home in Macao to his office in Hengqin, Zhuhai City on the Chinese mainland.

After graduating from university, Cai started his own company Discover Macao, an online tourist platform which provides 1,700 travel programs.

People visit the Ruins of St. Paul's complex in Macao, south China, Dec. 12, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

About 62 percent of the users are people residing in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area city cluster.

Cai is one of a growing number of young people who live and work between Macao and the mainland and have witnessed the robust shared development between the two.

Strong support

Macao has enjoyed strong support from the mainland since its return to the motherland in 1999. The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) was established and the region has been thriving under the "one country, two systems" principle.

Every morning, trucks loaded with fresh produce run through Zhuhai's Gongbei Border Checkpoint to markets in Macao.

The mainland also provides 88 percent of Macao's power supply and 98 percent of its water supply.

On top of material support, the mainland has issued a series of policies and measures over the years to boost the development of Macao.

The new Hengqin Port in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province, Oct. 20, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

In 2003, the mainland and Macao signed the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. That same year, mainland residents were allowed to visit Macao under the Individual Visit Scheme.

In 2009, the central government approved a plan to build Hengqin in Guangdong Province into a model for cooperation.

In 2014, a new campus of the University of Macao was opened in Hengqin, enabling the university to raise its enrollment to about 10,000 at present.

In 2018, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge opened to traffic.

In February, the outline development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) was unveiled, designating Macao as one of the four core cities in the region.

A new raft of policies was announced in November to make it easier for Macao residents to live, study and work in the bay area, as well as strengthen personnel, material and financial exchanges.

With the support, Macao has achieved rapid development over the past 20 years with its gross domestic product rising to 444.7 billion patacas (about 55 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018 from 51.9 billion patacas at its return to the motherland.

"The past 20 years has witnessed the fastest and greatest development in Macao's history, with macroeconomic indicators showing brilliant performance," said Fu Ziying, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao SAR, adding that he believed the GBA will bring Macao even greater opportunities.

A survey by the General Association of Chinese Students of Macao in 2019 found that Macao youths are more optimistic about education and career prospects in the GBA. About 46 percent and 43.3 percent of the respondents are interested in study or work in bay area cities other than Macao respectively.

Chief Executive of the Macao SAR Chui Sai On said the confidence of Macao residents comes primarily from the country's strong support for Macao.

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