Li Gang, director of the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Macau, Wednesday described Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On’s idea of asking Beijing for more land leases on Hengqin Island and jurisdiction over Macau’s coastal waters as “farsighted”.
He made the remarks on the sidelines of a public event at the private Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Taipa.
Asked by reporters for his comments on Chui’s announcement on Tuesday that the government has asked for permission from Beijing to lease more land for local development projects in Hengqin and jurisdiction over the city’s coastal waters, Li said that during the legislature’s Q&A session on Tuesday Chui had already revealed some details of the two requests.
“There are two things in the city that are scarce – land and professionals,” Li said, adding that as Macau has no jurisdiction over its coastal waters, the local government had raised the issue and asked for a possible solution from the central government.
When asked if the central government decided to grant the Macau government jurisdiction over the city’s coastal waters it would become easier for the local authorities to reclaim land, Li said that if the central government grants them jurisdiction over certain parts of Macau’s coastal areas there would be certain regulations they needed to follow.
“Whether reclaiming land [without Beijing’s green light] will be allowed…or how to manage the matter, [I think] there should be concrete regulations …now I cannot answer [your questions],” Li said
“I think these ideas that the Macau Special Administrative Region government has come up with are far-sighted,” Li said.
Further asked by reporters about what kind of local businesses should be set up if the central government decides to permit the local government to lease more land in Hengqin, Li said he believed that businesses such as the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) industry, leisure and tourism projects, technology projects and finance would be particularly welcome there.
Hengqin is a special development zone of the adjacent municipality of Zhuhai.
The Macau and Zhuhai governments are co-operating on the joint development the 5-square-kilometre joint venture Guangdong-Macau Co-operation Industrial Park in Hengqin, which includes an 0.5-square-kilometre TCM park.
The local government has leased 1.09-square-kilometres in Hengqin for the campus of the public University of Macau (UM). The Macau government will pay 1.2 billion patacas for the leasehold which lasts until December 19, 2049. The contract can be renewed.
Unlike Hong Kong, for historical reasons Macau does not have jurisdiction over its coastal waters. This is due to the fact that Portugal was never able to sign a Macau border agreement with China.
As long as Macau does not have jurisdiction over its coastal waters, all land reclamation projects must be approved by Beijing.(macaunews/macaupost)