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President Xi Jinping (right) greets Macau leader Fernando Chui Sai-on. Photo: AP

Xi Jinping calls on Macau to resolve 'deep-rooted conflicts'

Echoing a term first used by Hu Jintao, president calls for greater focus on youth issues


Macau should resolve its deep-rooted social conflicts and put more effort into its youth policy, President Xi Jinping said as he attended celebrations for the 15th anniversary of the city's handover to China yesterday.

Praising Macau's robust economic developments, Xi called on its residents to stay united, citing the old Chinese saying "harmony in the family leads to prosperity in all undertakings".

His remarks came a week after the months-long pro-democracy sit-ins ended in Hong Kong and six months after 20,000 Macau people took to the streets against a controversial bill proposing lavish perks for outgoing government officials.

"Some deep-rooted conflicts have started to emerge as Macau proceeds with its development," said Xi as he met representatives from various sectors in the city. The city should think of adversity amid prosperity, he added.

The term "deep-rooted problems" was first used by former president Hu Jintao to Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on's predecessor Edmund Ho Hau-wah in 2004. Hu had said such conflicts persisted in the city despite its fast-paced development. Xi also called on Macau to diversify its gambling-dominated economy to make it more resilient in 2009.

Xi also called on the city to fully support the new administration led by Chui, who was re-elected by a 400-strong Election Committee in a one-horse race.

Veteran Macau political commentator Larry So Man-yum said the Occupy movement in Hong Kong had prompted concerns among state leaders that similar social movements might occur in Macau, because the young people in both cities shared similar problems - income disparity, limits in upward mobility and difficulties in purchasing property.

"But Xi's remarks still carry [such] significance that the new government would now need to take the issue seriously," he said.

Sulu Sou Ka-hou, from activist group Macau Conscience, said neither Xi nor the Macau government had identified the demands of young people.

"What we want is a fair political system, social justice and the rule of law," Sou said.

Meanwhile, Xinhua reported Xi praised Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, saying the administration and police force had fulfilled their duties in improving the city's situation.

Embarking on his first official visit to Macau since he became president, Xi visited two families in the newly-built Seac Pai Van public housing estate, before he met Chui, Ho and Leung. He will officiate at Chui's inauguration ceremony today and go on a field trip in the city, before returning to Beijing.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Xi says city must resolve its 'deep-rooted conflicts'