Shen Beili, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), receives an interview in south China's Macao, Nov. 8, 2019. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)
The Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) has taken great advantage of the "one country, two systems" and made impressive achievements in its external relations by expanding its international influence in the past 20 years, Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Macao SAR Shen Beili told Xinhua recently in an exclusive interview.
Centering around Macao's economic diversification efforts, the commissioner's office has actively implemented foreign policies designed to benefit Macao, helping strengthen Macao residents' national pride and confidence, the commissioner said.
The great advantages Macao has enjoyed in its external relations are rooted in "one country," Shen said, adding that the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and other national strategies have provided important opportunities for Macao to deepen its international cooperation.
The central government has clearly defined the direction and path of Macao's external relations by setting the goals of establishing a world tourism and leisure center, an economic and trade cooperation platform for China and Portuguese-speaking countries, and an exchange and cooperation base with Chinese culture as its mainstream and co-existence of different cultures, the commissioner said.
Meanwhile, Macao's advantage in its external relations also comes from the benefit of "two systems," as the Basic Law of Macao stipulates that the Macao SAR may develop its external relations and participate in some international affairs in the name of "China's Macao SAR" in some appropriate fields, she said.
Under the policy of "one country, two systems," the Macao SAR has maintained its status as an international free port, which allows free movements of global investment, management, talents and other resources.
Shen stressed that under the guiding of the country's overall foreign relations, Macao's external exchanges have maintained a good momentum of continuous expansion yielding great achievements.
"Macao's image has been greatly upgraded through its increasing external exchanges and cooperation, and it has also enriched its way of development with Macao characteristics by learning from the experiences of other countries and regions," Shen said.
At the same time, Macao has broadened its global cooperation with increasing external relations with the European Union, the Unites States, as well as Eastern Asian, Southeastern Asian and Portuguese-speaking countries.
Macao's willingness and capability to participate in international affairs have also been improved, and the number of international organizations that it has participated in has increased from 51 before its return to the motherland to 120 currently.
The commissioner pointed out that Macao has given full play to its unique advantages in connecting the East and the West, and has carried out friendly exchanges and cooperation in relevant fields with other countries and regions, especially the United States, Portuguese-speaking countries as well as its neighboring countries and regions.
"In accordance with the Basic Law of Macao and Macao's practical needs, the Macao SAR has taken an active role in the activities of international organizations and various international conferences, and raised up its voice, so that Macao's international influence has been greatly lifted, coordinating with the country's multilateral diplomacy," she said.
In carrying out foreign policies designed to benefit Macao, the commissioner's office has given priority to building Macao into a world tourism and leisure center and an economic and trade cooperation platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
Shen also said the office has taken an active role in this regard by authorizing the SAR to negotiate and sign flight agreements with foreign airlines and supporting the development of new routes and destinations at Macao International Airport to enhance the accessibility of Macao.
It has also provided support to the global tourism economy forum held in Macao and helped to upgrade the forum's scale and influence, and to raise the voice of Macao in the tourism industry.
The office has also deepened its cooperation with the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao), and provided support to the forum to help enhance its influences.
Meanwhile, the office has guided the Macao SAR to properly handle international ratings and reviews in areas such as anti-money laundering and taxation, to improve Macao's business environment.
In recent years, the office has taken advantage of in diplomatic resources to help facilitate Macao's participation in the construction of BRI.
According to Shen, the office has set up external exchanges platforms such as the "mayor's visit plan" for neighboring countries and regions to guide Macao in expanding its exchanges with sister cities, and deepen practical cooperation with neighboring countries and regions such as Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia under the BRI.
The office has also authorized or assisted the Macao SAR to negotiate and sign bilateral agreements or international conventions in the fields of judicial assistance, investment protection, exchange of tax information and avoidance of double taxation with countries and regions along the BRI, and supported Macao in strengthening its cooperation in legal affairs with those countries and regions.
A total of 144 countries and regions have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to Macao SAR passport holders, Shen noted.
"We have also provided assistance to Macao on signing Kimberley Process and Cape Town Convention to help Macao develop aircraft financing leasing, rough diamond trade, as well as jewelry industries," Shen said.
The office also helped the Macao SAR sign internship program agreements with international organizations, and recommended Macao's civil servants to participate in their junior staff program.
It also provided support for Macao's communities in applying for consultative status of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, so as to expand the channel for cultivating Macao's talents suitable for joining in the construction of BRI.
Macao has a deep tradition of loving the country and loving Macao. With the growth of China's overall national strength and the expansion of Macao's external exchanges and cooperation, Macao residents are paying increasing attention to national development and the country's diplomacy.
"The office attaches great importance to introducing the international situation and national foreign policy to Macao's youth," Shen said.
Each year, the competition on diplomatic knowledge among Macao's youth has been held here by the office and the Macao SAR government. The staff of the office would go to Macao's schools to give lectures on the country's diplomatic policies.
Meanwhile, it also holds receptions, symposia, open days and other activities for SAR government officials and the public to learn about the international situation, the country's diplomacy and the achievements of Macao's external relations.
"The new image of Macao as a diverse, inclusive and charming place has been widely welcomed by the international community," Shen said, adding that the office would continue to make every effort to serve the development of Macao and benefit Macao residents, and demonstrate to the world the successful implementation of the "one country, two systems" with Macao characteristics.