Protest-free Macao is rewarded

The casinos of Macao. Source: Wikimedia.

The Party Central Committee, with comrade Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 as its core, cares deeply for the development of Macau is the headline of Xinhua News Agency’s top Chinese-language story today, with the English version decommunized a little in this rendering: Xi and his firm support for Macao’s prosperity, stability.

  • Xi goes to Macao tomorrow to attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of Macao’s return to the mainland, which falls on December 20.
  • Xinhua praises Macao for its successful implementation of “one country, two systems,” for the “integration of Macao’s development into that of the country,” for ensuring China’s constitution “is well respected,” and for safeguarding “national security and unity.”
  • Examples of Macao’s successful integration with central government plans listed by Xinhua include: involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), and the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
  • Xi will “announce a raft of new policies aimed at diversifying the city’s casino-dependent economy into a financial center, according to over a dozen interviews with officials and corporate executives,” reported Reuters last week.
  • Xi’s visit and the reported economic incentives are meant to send a “signal to Hong Kong,” said Richard McGregor, a senior fellow at Sydney-based think tank the Lowy Institute, to CNBC:

I think it’s trolling Hong Kong if you like, it’s attempting to say ‘look, you think you’ve got some special services that you offer China, well we can put them in Macao.’

Beijing set Macao up for good behavior a long time ago

In related news, the South China Morning Post reports:

Eight years before Macau returned to Chinese rule in 1999, Beijing sent at least a dozen mainland legal experts to Portugal to learn the language and legal system so they could take top government posts in the gambling hub.

It is a story that has long circulated in Macau political circles and among those familiar with the former Portuguese colony, but never confirmed.

Now a source with direct knowledge has told the Post that the episode helped ensure a successful transition after the return of the city, which has had a smoother post-handover era than Hong Kong, which was given back by the British two years earlier.

In other news from Macao, Hong Kong, and the bridge between them:

A reporter was denied entry to Macao to cover Xi’s visit: A senior South China Morning Post reporter “was denied entry on Tuesday on the grounds he might pose a security threat,” according to the South China Morning Post. “Phila Siu was put on a ferry back to Hong Kong after being detained and questioned for three hours.”

“A Hongkonger who has been missing since Friday was detained on suspicion of smuggling offences while traveling on the mega bridge to Macau, authorities from mainland China said on Monday,” reports the South China Morning Post.  

“Why was China’s domestic security chief Guō Shēngkūn 郭声琨 at Carrie Lam’s meeting with Xi Jinping?” asks the South China Morning Post. “It was not clear if Guo talked to Lam but his presence spoke volumes about Beijing’s concerns, observers say.”

—Jeremy Goldkorn