Macao, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the University of Macao's (UM) new campus on Hengqin Island Sunday afternoon, calling for concerted efforts to build the university into a world top-notch one.
The president arrived at the campus accompanied by Chui Sai On, the newly sworn-in Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR).
Hu, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, was briefed on the construction of the campus and the general outline to develop Hengqing Island.
He said that the building of the new campus caters to the need of Macao's social development, especially in the high education sector.
The move also reflects Macao SAR government's special attention on education and central government's strong support to Macao's education development.
The building of the campus is also a vivid embodiment of the advantages of "one country, two systems", he said.
An island of 106.46 square km, Hengqin is situated in the south of Zhuhai, a coastal city of China's southern province of Guangdong. It is separated from Macao by the Pearl River Estuary.
Hengqin is currently under the jurisdiction of Zhuhai city, but, on June 27, 2009, the ninth session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress passed a bill to give the Macao SAR jurisdiction over 1.09 square kilometers of land located on the eastern coast of the island, where UM's new campus will be built.
Being a prestigious public school in Macao, the UM currently occupies a hilly strip of no more than 0.05 square km, and it has just over 6,600 students due to limited land.
With a larger area, the new campus will have a minimum accommodation capacity of 10,000 students and better education and research facilities.
Construction of the campus is expected to complete within 3 years.
The president said that he hoped the new UM will be turned into a world top-notch university with first-class facilities, teaching faculty, talents and achievements to contribute more to Macao's talent cultivation and social and economic development.
"The development of Hengqin Island is a major decision by the central government," he said, hoping Guangdong and Zhuhai will take concrete steps to turn Hengqin into a pilot zone for the cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao under "one country, two systems."
Hu also hoped Hengqin will become a pilot zone for deepening reform and opening-up and promoting scientific and technological innovation, and a new platform to promote industry upgrading on the west bank of the Pearl River.
The groundbreaking ceremony began at 4:00 p.m. Amid a warm applause, Hu unveiled a memorial plaque and then, shoveled earth on the cornerstone, marking the formal start of the campus construction.
Before leaving the campus, the president wrote for the UM an inscription "love the motherland and love Macao, study extensively and do things earnestly."
Hu left Macao on Sunday afternoon after wrapping up his two-day tour to the special administrative region.