Macau’s leaders have travelled to Beijing for the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC, China’s largely rubber-stamp legislature), and have used the occasion to hold meetings with senior mainland officials, focusing primarily on bilateral co-operation.
While Hong Kong media are concerned about comments from senior mainland officials railing against subversive groups in the territory, Macau’s concerns at the legislative session are, for the most part, more prosaic. This partly reflects the fact that there is less pressure from the public in Macau to increase the level of democracy in the Special Administrative Region (SAR); Macau has generally been more politically apathetic than Hong Kong since its return to Chinese rule in 1999.
Nevertheless, Macau does have many day-to-day concerns that can be advanced during the networking that surrounds the annual double sessions of the NPC and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (a powerless advisory body) in Beijing. Macau’s chief executive, Chui Sai On, for example, has held discussions with Hu Chunhua, the new Chinese Communist Party secretary of the neighbouring mainland province of Guangdong. Mr Hu apparently confirmed that construction plans for the new campus of the University of Macau, which is being built on the nearby island of Hengqin in Guangdong, have been finalised and that the facility will be ready to accept students in September. Other delegates from Macau have focused on efforts to smooth the flow of visitors across the border between the SAR and China.
Macau is also likely to be concerned about the ongoing anti-corruption campaign being waged by the central Chinese government. Historically, the territory has tended to suffer during such crackdowns as illicit money flows from mainland tourists coming to Macau to gamble are curbed. So far, this does not appear to have been the case in the latest campaign, as mainland tourist arrivals continue to expand rapidly. However, Macau’s leaders will doubtless be seeking to learn more about the central government’s intentions concerning the anti-graft drive.
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