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Hu: Macao Has Made Great Achievements

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Macao is thriving in all sense in the past decade, President Hu Jintao said on Saturday, as he kicked off a two-day visit to the special administrative region.

"I feel very happy for what Macao has achieved in the last 10 years," the president told a crowd of officials and reporters upon his arrival at Macao International Airport.

Macao will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its return to the motherland on Sunday.

President Hu also said he would like to discuss with representatives from local communities about successful experience of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy and to find out how to “maintain the prosperity and stability of Macao in the future”.

After four years of recessions, Macao's economy grew at an average pace of 14 percent from 2000 to 2008.

Among those who welcomed the president at the airport were Macao’s outgoing Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah and incoming Chief Executive Chui Sai-on.

In his second visit to Macao as the president, Hu will meet local residents on Saturday and attend the swearing-in ceremony of Chui on Sunday.

Hu's last visit to Macao was in 2004. He came to join the celebration of the 5th anniversary of Macao’s return to the motherland.

With a population of half a million, the 30-sq-km enclave was under the Portuguese rule for four centuries. The Chinese government resumed its sovereignty over the enclave, the only Chinese place where gambling is legal, 10 years ago.

The city hosts 34 casinos and has long been a meeting point of Eastern and Western cultures.

Tourist arrivals in the city hit 230 million last year, but travelers stayed an average of 1.3 nights in the city.

( December 19, 2009)