Macao, one of China's two special administrative regions (SARs), is striving for fast, extensive and deepened integration with the outside world.
Foreseeing a higher than 5 percent economic expansion rate for this year and another 4 percent for 2003, Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah has said that the city should open its door wider and catch up the pace of the current times.
Economic cooperation was the major topic that Edmund Ho focused on when he paid as many as ten visits to China's inland and other places this year.
In Mozambique last September, he noted that the SAR government hopes to build "a solid bridge" between Portuguese-speaking countries and China's inland, benefiting all sides.
Known as Monte Carlo in the East, Macao now plays host to about 30,000 visitors daily on average. After hitting a record of more than ten million last year, the number of tourist arrivals in Macao reached 9.46 million from January to October this year, an equivalent to the figure for the first 11 months of 2001, official statistics show.
Tourists from China's inland were the "champion" -- they outnumbered tourists from other sources in money spending in the SAR and increased at the fastest pace in number to more than one third of the total for Macao.
On the other hand, more than 10,000 local residents, out of a population of roughly 440,000, made tours by groups to the country's interior and some Southeast Asian countries each month for sightseeing and leisure-seeking purposes.
So far, the Macao SAR has signed visa-free agreements with 30-odd countries and regions and so Macao residents with their passports can travel worldwide freely.
In 2002, some important political figures including the Russian foreign minister, the Portuguese foreign minister and the prime minister of Luxembourg visited Macao, vowing to cement and broaden all-round links with the Chinese SAR.
Macao police have also been forging close ties with the neighboring regions to ensure sound law and public order in the SAR. Cheong Kuoc Va, secretary for security of the SAR government, for instance, made visits to Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing this year to discuss how to fight against cross-border crimes, drug-related crimes and blockade-running cases more efficiently.
A senior official from China's Ministry of Public Security said earlier this year that Macao has become "one of the regions with the best public order in the world".
With regard to school education, inland universities and colleges enrolled more than 1,600 Macao students this year, up 8 percent from 2001, and 16 prestigious ones such as Beijing University and Qinghua University recruited 204 excellent Macao students without entrance examinations.
Students from China's interior also like to go to Macao to receive higher education in the University of Macao, the Macao Polytechnic University and the Macao University of Science and Technology.
And cultural and sports events, such as the Macao International Music Festival, the Macao Arts Festival and the Macao Grand Prix auto races, have upgraded the city's image on the global stage and made Macao more closely integrated with the outside world.
In his policy address for 2003, Edmund Ho Hau Wah said, "We need larger space for cooperation along with the future development of Macao's economy."