President Xi Jinping (right) pose for a photo with Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region John Lee Ka-chiu, who is on a duty visit to Beijing, the Chinese capital, Dec 23, 2022. (LI TAO / XINHUA)

BEIJING – President Xi Jinping has underlined "one country, two systems" as the best institutional arrangement in ensuring the long-term prosperity and stability of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, pledging full support for the SAR governments in exercising lawful governance.

Xi made the remarks on Friday during separate meetings at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound with Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR John Lee Ka-chiu and Chief Executive of the Macao SAR Ho Iat-seng, who were visiting Beijing.

The president heard reports from them and commended their work as chief executives, as well as that of the two SAR governments.

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During the meeting with Lee, Xi said that the central government will fully, faithfully and unswervingly carry out the principle of "one country, two systems", and make the utmost efforts to support the lawful governance of the Hong Kong SAR government and its chief executive.

He pledged full support for Hong Kong in giving play to its unique strengths, conducting extensive international cooperation and better integrating itself into overall national development.

He said that the SAR will see abundant opportunities and broad prospects in the new era.

The president gave full recognition to the work of Lee in leading the new SAR government in assuming its duties, saying that he has led the SAR government in staying pragmatic and enterprising and has united all sectors of society in resolutely safeguarding national security.

President Xi Jinping (right) meets with Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, who is on a duty visit to Beijing Dec 23, 2022. (YAN YAN / XINHUA)

He praised Lee's leadership of the SAR government for restoring the vitality of the region's economy and also proactively responding to public concerns.

Xi also spoke positively of the efforts to study, publicize and implement in Hong Kong the guiding principles of the 20th National Congress of Communist Party of China. The city is taking on new vitality from "patriots administering Hong Kong" and marching steadily forward on the right track of "one country, two systems", he said.

President Xi Jinping meets with Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region Ho Iat-seng, who is on a visit to Beijing, China, on Dec 23, 2022. (LI TAO / XINHUA)

During the meeting with Ho, Xi said that the central government will comprehensively, faithfully and unswervingly implement "one country, two systems", fully back Macao in giving play to its strengths and characteristics and enable the SAR to work toward new progress in the practice of "one country, two systems" with its own characteristics.

He said that Ho has led the Macao SAR government in exercising prudent governance, maintaining social stability, and making solid progress in amending the city's Law on Safeguarding National Security and its Gaming Law.

Xi also hailed Macao's proper handling of revising gambling-related legislation, rebidding for licenses to operate casinos and pushing forward with the development of the Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, Guangdong province.

On Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang met with the two chief executives and heard their work reports.

While meeting with Lee, the premier highlighted the need for the Hong Kong SAR to expand high-level opening-up, cement and elevate its position as an international financial, trade and aviation hub, and accelerate steps to develop itself into a global powerhouse for innovation and science and technology.

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He called for more steps to improve public well-being and deliver greater benefits to the city's residents through growth.

President Xi Jinping meets with Macao Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng in Beijing on Dec 23, 2022.(Photo/Xinhua)

Li urged related authorities to expedite communication and coordination in order to gradually normalize personnel exchanges between Hong Kong and the mainland.

Lee welcomed the support and care from the central government for Hong Kong, saying that the city will fully amplify the unique strengths from "one country, two systems" and take its development onto a new stage.

While meeting with Ho, Li called on the Macao SAR to further diversify its economy, continuously improve people's well-being and maintain its long-term prosperity and stability.