Timeline: Key events since Macao's return to the motherland
Updated 11:37, 19-Dec-2019
Liu Hui

Shining and flourishing, the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), located on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China, has evolved from a small town – once under the colonial rule by Portugal – to an international metropolis since it returned to China on December 20, 1999.

Over the last two decades, many iconic moments have shaped the region and shed light on the great vitality of the "One Country, Two Systems" policy. CGTN has selected 35 major events that took place in Macao over the last 20 years to review its development.

1999-2019: Return and thriving

Since China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Macao in 1999, the Chinese central government and the Macao SAR government have promoted the political and legislative systems in the region in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law of the Macao SAR and laid out multiple development plans.

The city, covering an area of 30.8 square kilometers with a population of 672,000, successfully recovered from the SARS epidemic in 2003, a financial crisis in 2008, and Typhoon Hato in 2017, with the central government's support. Macao recorded a GDP per capita of 86,355 U.S. dollars last year, making it the world's second richest economy by GDP per capita.

As the region enjoys high degree of autonomy, the people of Macao SAR have taken part in five chief executive elections and six legislative assembly elections since 1999, truly realizing the principle of "Macao people administering Macao."

Under the leadership of chief executives Ho Hau Wah and Chui Sai On in the last 20 years, Macao has integrated its own development into the overall development of the country with issuance and introduction of Macao's first five-year plan, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), and the Greater Bay Area (GBA) outline development plan.

Meanwhile, the Macao SAR has safeguarded the implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" with an emphasis on raising patriotism in the society. Despite strengthening patriotic education, a law safeguarding national security based on the Basic Law was passed in 2009, a National Anthem Law was passed in 2018, and the SAR's Safeguarding National Security Commission was set up the same year.

The SAR government also made great efforts to improve people's livelihood with a healthcare security system covering a wide range of upgraded medical services and the implementation of a 15-year free education plan. People from all walks of life in the SAR have been united and have enjoyed a better life than ever before.

New era: What's next?

Looking ahead, despite the great achievements, the Macao SAR is facing challenges and opportunities. As a China-Portugal business cooperation platform, a free port and a rising financial hub, actively participating in regional cooperation is the key for its development in the future in order to promote diversified economic development and reduce the risk of relying on a single industry.

With the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao GBA development strategy unveiled by the central government earlier this year, Macao will continue to play the role of core engines and inject new vitality into China's overall development.

December 20 marks the 20th anniversary of Macao's return to China. An inauguration ceremony of the fifth-term government of the Macao SAR will be held and the people in Macao will welcome Ho Iat Seng as their new chief executive. Stay tuned to CGTN's live coverage to witness another historic moment in the Macao SAR.

(Images designed by Yin Yating)