Mr. Xi referred to the instability and criminality that consumed Macau in the years before the handover, adding, “Macau has become one of the world’s safest cities.”
In the days leading up to the anniversary, state television and newspapers lavished coverage on the territory, citing the rising prosperity of the city’s 670,000 residents, the stewardship of the city’s leadership and most of all, Macau’s loyalty to the Communist Party state in Beijing. The comparative discord in Hong Kong always seemed to hover over the preparations.
The coverage also sought to deliver a message to Taiwan, the self-governing democracy that China claims as its territory. Mr. Xi has sought to entice the island into unification with the mainland with a promise of a similar “one country, two systems” political arrangement, but the idea is largely unpopular in Taiwan.
Mr. Xi, accompanied during his visit by his wife, Peng Liyuan, a former popular singer, visited government offices and schools and viewed an exhibition at a middle school about “patriotic education” in Macau, which means using textbooks produced in the mainland under strict Communist Party supervision. On Thursday, he also met with commanders and officers of the Macau Security Forces inside the East Asian Games Dome.
The coverage verged on hagiography. “When I shook Grandpa Xi’s hand, I felt the warmth in his hand,” a young boy said after his school visit, using a respectful diminutive to describe the leader. “Because my hands were cold, the moment when I held Grandpa Xi’s hand, I felt Grandpa’s Xi warmth pass through my body at once.”
During a gala dinner on Thursday, Mr. Xi praised Macau repeatedly. He cited new efforts to build new housing, a pressing problem in the tiny, crowded territory only 12 miles square, and the passage of national security laws that made subversion against the Chinese state a crime. Hong Kong failed to adopt a similar law after mass protests in 2003 and has yet to take up the issue again, much to Beijing’s frustration.