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Beijing Tightens Control over Macau

Like Hong Kong, Macau is one of China’s other so-called special administrative regions that was supposed to enjoy a high degree of autonomy under the framework of “one country, two systems.” Now Beijing set up a special economic zone that encompasses Macau and the nearby Hengqin Island, which is in Zhuhapart of the neighboring Guangdong Province. It is a prefecture-level city as well as a Special Economic Zone. It is said to implement preferential taxation and other policies. The purpose is to diversify Macau’s economy which primarily centers around the gambling industry, to include finance, high technology, traditional Chinese medicine, tourism, exhibitions and trade.

China has recently exerted control over the casino business in the world’s largest gambling city. The Macau government announced a new measure that strengthens the government’s intervention in the casinos. In response, in mid-September this year, the stock shares of the casinos fell by nearly a third. The new regulation will also limit the number of casino licenses and install government personnel in casino operations.

For the first time, Macau has disqualified opposition candidates in this year’s Legislative Assembly election. In July of this year, Macau authorities disqualified 21 pan-democrats from candidacy on the grounds that they did not uphold Macau’s Basic Law and failed to meet the requirements of allegiance to the city. The turnout in this year’s mid-September legislative elections was only 42 percent, the lowest since the handover of the former Portuguese colony to China in 1999.

Although both the United States and the European Union condemned the Macau authorities’ disqualification of candidates for the Legislative Assembly as being contrary to the rights and interests enshrined in the Macau Basic Law, the Macau government said that the election is entirely an internal matter of Macau and that foreign forces have no right to interfere.

Source: Voice of America, October 18, 2021