Macao marked the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Special Administrative Region (SAR) Sunday with an official ceremony.
Many residents said they were impressed by the city's economic development and shared a deeper sense of belonging to China.
The past decade saw rapid economic development in the city, including the opening of the vibrant casino industry and the increasing number of mainland tourists.
President Hu Jintao, speaking at a swearing-in ceremony for SAR Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on, said the city has maintained social stability and made significant achievements in implementing the "one country, two systems" principle, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
"Macao has made outstanding achievements and accumulated valuable experience since its return to the motherland a decade ago," Hu said, adding that officials of the city should also focus on tackling problems arising from the rapid development.
He also said the central government will continue supporting the governance of Macao in accordance with the law.
Chui said the SAR government intends to diversify the economy of Macao.
Many of the changes in the SAR over the past decade are economic, in particular the casino industry. There are 31 casinos that attracted renowned overseas operators such as Steve Wynn and the Las Vegas Sands.
The city's annual gross revenue from gaming activities jumped from $5.5 billion in 2004 to $14 billion last year. The number of tourists visiting the SAR reached about 30 million last year with most coming from the mainland.
Local citizens said the efforts of the nation were essential to the city's development in the past decade, and some said they feel more attached to the nation's development.
A survey conducted by Department of Communication of the University of Macau in May found that nearly 60 percent of Macao residents identified themselves as Chinese.
Tam Pou-iong, Macao Gaming Enterprise Staff's Association director-general, told the Global Times that she feels proud to be a Chinese citizen.
"The concerns of the nation to Macao has been strengthened over the past 10 years," she said.
Tam said she always feels herself a Chinese.
"China can exercise its sovereignty over the city, and Macao people are ruling Macao now," she said.
Rita Santos, a Macanese, is glad that she was able to persuade her family to stay in the city instead of leaving for fear that Portuguese culture and language would not be recognized after the handover.
"Macao is my home and my root," she told Xinhua earlier, adding that she will teach her nephews Putonghua.
"This is not just my own feeling. Whenever I talk to other Macanese, we all feel gratitude to the nation," she said.
10 milestones in Macao
The city was returned to China on December 20, 1999. The nation gained sovereignty over the SAR.
Opening of the gaming industry
Ending the monopoly of the sector and attracting overseas operators to invest in the city. Some 31 casinos are operating in the city.
Individual travelers scheme
The mainland first allowed tourists to go to the city as individual travelers in July 2003.
Signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA)
Mainland authority signed the arrangement with Macao on October 29, 2003, strengthening economic ties between the city and the mainland.
Fifth anniversary of handover
President Hu Jintao visited the city for the first time.
Arrest and imprisonment of former public works chief
Former Secretary for Transport and Public Works Ao Man Long was sentenced to 27 years in jail for 40 counts of bribe taking.
University of Macau expands on Hengqin Island
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed the bill on June 27, 2009 to give Macao jurisdiction over 1.09 square kilometers of land on the island, which belonged to Zhuhai city, for university expansion.
Third Chief Executive election
Former Secretary for Social and Cultural Affairs Fernando Chui Sai-on was elected SAR Chief Executive on July 26, 2009.
The State Council approved a plan by the city to reclaim 361.65 hectares of land in November for new urban development. The reclamation will increase the city's land size by 12.3 percent.
Construction of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge
Construction of the world's longest cross-sea bridge linking China's southern economic hub of Guangdong Province to Hong Kong and Macao began December 15.
Global Times – Agencies