MACAO, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese central government fully recognizes the achievements that the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) government has made, top legislator Wu Bangguo said Thursday.
Wu, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, made the remarks in a keynote speech at a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Law of the Macao SAR.
Wu praised the historical development of the area since the People's Republic of China government resumed exercising sovereignty over Macao in 1999.
"For the first time, Macao compatriots realize that everyone is equal before the laws, and they fully enjoy the rights and freedom guaranteed by the basic law and other laws," Wu said.
In accordance with laws, the Macao SAR has established administrative, legislative and judicial organs, and held elections of chief executive and legislature for three terms, showing the area's autonomy at a high degree which is provided by the basic law, Wu added.
During the speech, Wu spoke highly of the unprecedented economic growth in Macao.
From 2000 to 2011, the gross domestic product (GDP) in the SAR increased from 49 billion pataca (6.13 billion U.S. dollars) to 292.1 billion pataca. The GDP per capita in the area grew from 14,000 to 66,000 U.S. dollars during the period, ranking second in Asia.
Wu said that Macao has built a social welfare system covering all citizens for the first time ever, and improved people's living standards in an all-round way.
Under the principle that the diplomatic power is under the central government, Macao has had the right to handle foreign affairs in economy, trade and culture, Wu added.
The legislator also extended his good will for a bright future of the SAR.
The Basic Law of the Macao SAR was promulgated on March 31, 1993 and took effect on Dec. 20, 1999, when the government of the People's Republic of China resumed exercising sovereignty over Macao. It has acted as the cornerstone of the region's political and legal systems.
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