China increases Macau's territory

HONG KONG • China has granted tiny Macau control over its surrounding sea for the first time to help boost its economic growth, more than tripling the size of the former Portuguese colony's territory.

Macau, which has an area of 30 sq km, will administer its surrounding sea and its offshore border with neighbouring Zhuhai city, effectively enlarging its territory by 85 sq km, according to a notice on the Macau government's website yesterday.

The move will give access to mainland vessels wishing to use Macau's waters and comes as the world's biggest casino hub is facing slumping gaming revenues and the worst economic growth on record.

Macau is the only place in China where its citizens are allowed to gamble in casinos. But the new area will not permit any development for the gaming industry. "Any fresh proposal for land reclamation involving Macau's newly demarcated waters would be reported to the central government and there would be no gaming venues or commercial gaming activities in such areas," said Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On in a statement.

Like Hong Kong, Macau is ruled under the one country-two systems model that affords its residents personal freedoms that do not exist on the mainland. Critics say these freedoms have been eroding under pressure from China.

Macau will step up its role in national policy and help boost the nation's maritime economy, Dr Chui added.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2015, with the headline 'China increases Macau's territory'. Print Edition | Subscribe