Macau’s coastal waters covering an area of 85 square kilometres and part of the Duck Channel will finally under the city’s jurisdiction from Sunday, the 16th anniversary of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR), the State Council in Beijing decided on Wednesday.
“The government of the Macau Special Administrative Region expresses its sincere gratitude to the central government for this supportive measure,” Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said in statement released by his office last night.
Addressing the press conference, O Lam, the chief-of-cabinet of Chui’s office, said that the draft of a new Map of the Administrative Division of the Macau Special Administrative Region was passed during an executive meeting of the State Council on Wednesday. According to O, the council will promulgate the map, which will clearly demarcate the exact land border and maritime boundary between Macau and Zhuhai, on December 20.
O said that it would still be necessary for the local government to seek the central government’s green light before launching any land reclamation projects even after the waters have come under MSAR jurisdiction, adding that no gaming-related projects will be allowed to operate on land to be reclaimed from the sea in the future.
O said that three local by-laws related to marine affairs will be enacted on December 20, adding that the Macau Post Office will issue a commemorative stamp and envelope to celebrate the event.
Speaking during a press conference, Mapping and Land Registry Bureau (DSCC) Director Cheong Sio Kei said the plot of land where the Barrier Gate checkpoint is located, covering an area of about 28,000 square metres, will become Macau territory on Sunday. Zhuhai has hitherto leased the land to Macau, according to Cheong.
Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak told reporters during the press conference that the Macau Customs Service has acquired several additional vessels to patrol the waters, adding that the Customs Service planned to recruit 100 additional officers, while three new operation bases will come into operation on December 20.
Also addressing the press conference, Marine and Water Bureau (DSAMA) Director Susana Wong Soi Man said the government planned to propose a framework bill on the management of the city’s coastal waters, adding that the bureau would step up its co-operation with its counterparts in the mainland.
Asked by a reporter why Chui did not attend the press conference, Government Information Bureau (GCS) Victor Chan Chi Ping said he had made an online statement on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Macau said in a statement last night that the State Council’s decision would provide Macau with strong support in keeping its prosperity and stability, as well as its sustainable economic and social development.
Macau had never had – unlike Hong Kong – jurisdiction over its coastal waters. This is due to the fact that China never signed a Macau border agreement with Portugal.
President Xi Jinping announced during his inspection visit to Macau last December that the central government was willing to let the local government manage the city’s customary coastal waters.
Macau’s demarcated coastal waters will be nearly three times the size of its land area, which stood at 30.3 square kilometres at the end of last year, according to official data.