Macao has reinvented itself since its return to the motherland in 1999. The economic growth of the city has been exceptional, following the opening-up of Macao’s gaming sector and the city’s positioning as a tourism destination. Riding on its remarkable achievements, Macao is also striving to become more sustainable in its long-term development for the welfare of its citizens and future generations. In its process of development, Macao has been elevated to an important position in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development 2016-2020. The Plan has stated that the central government will support Macao in becoming:
- a major international center for tourism and leisure, and
- a platform for trade and cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
The Plan also reiterated the need for efforts to promote an appropriate level of diversity in Macao’s economy to achieve sustainable growth.
Furthermore, in the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) announced in February 2019, the blueprint for regional cooperation of the GBA cities has been laid down. Macao, in addition to “One Center” and “One Platform”, will also strive to become “One Base” to promote cultural exchange and cooperation with Chinese culture as the mainstream.
Macao is in a good position to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the BRI and the GBA. The city is endowed with a rich heritage of “East meets West” that has spanned over four centuries. The enchanting mix of Chinese culture and European influence, the city’s well-preserved World Heritage sites, and its allure as the “Las Vegas of Asia” have all combined to provide visitors with a unique experience of the senses. Nevertheless, Macao is a small city, and at present most tourists are inclined to make only short visits. To encourage multi-day stays, it certainly makes sense for Macao to create a synergistic partnership with neighboring Zhuhai and the island of Hengqin, to develop regional tourism routes offering a wider appeal of cultural, theme park, resort, and gaming activities.
As for Macao’s role as One Platform, Macao’s well-established connectivity with Portuguese-speaking countries is advantageous in strengthening cooperation in economic and trade as well as delivering financial services between China and these countries.
Against this background, the university and APAEM have fine-tuned their strategic planning in support of the roles that Macao is tasked to play in the national development efforts. UM will leverage its strengths in science and technology as well as relevant disciplines such as finance, business, law, and social sciences to support Macao SAR in carrying out its two major roles of One Centre and One Platform. The emphasis of APAEM will be on interdisciplinary collaboration as the academy’s research focus requires the combined expertise of different faculties and departments to achieve the desired results.