General Outline of the Macao Special Administrative Region
1. Brief account
The Macao Special Administrative Region lies to the south of GuangdongProvinceon the west bank of the mouth of the Pearl River.It is bounded in the north by Gongbei of Zhuhai city, overlooks the South China Seain the south, stands opposite across the river with Wanzai of Zhuhai city in the west and faces Hong Kongacross the sea in the east.Macaois 42 nautical miles away from Hong Kong, and there is passenger service between the two places, such as jet ships and hydrofoil craft. The MacaoPeninsula, TaipaIslandand ColoaneIslandare linked up by the Friendship Bridge, Macao-TaipaBridgeand Tianhai Highway.It is in the subtropical monsoon zone.The climate is warm and humid with abundant rainfall.
Macaohas always been Chinese territory.In history, it was under the jurisdiction of XiangshanCounty(NowZhongshanCounty) of GuangdongProvince.In 1535 (the 14th year of the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty), Portuguese bribed local officials of Guangdongto acquire the right of berthing ships on the wharf and conducting trade.In 1553 (the 32ndyear of the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty), Portuguese landed in Macaoto reside on the pretext of drying soaked goods in the sun.Beginning from 1557 (the 36thyear of the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty), Portuguese built houses to settle in Macao.After the Opium War, Portugaltook the opportunity to expand its occupied territory in Macaoby occupying TaipaIslandand ColoaneIslandin 1851 and 1864 respectively.In 1887, Portugalforced the Qing Government of China to conclude the Manchu-Portuguese Agreement and the Beijing Treaty, squeezing in the clause of "perpetual occupation and government of Macao".Since then, Portugalhas all along occupied Macaoand incorporated Macaointo the Portuguese territory.In 1976, the Portuguese Constitution began to prescribe that Macaowas a special area under the jurisdiction of Portugal.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese Government has on many occasions expounded its position on the question of Macaothat Macaois part of Chinese territory and the question of Macaois one left over by history.The Chinese Government maintains that it should be settled through negotiation when conditions are ripe.The Chinese and Portuguese Governments conducted four rounds of talks starting from June 30, 1986, which lasted for 9 months., and initialled on March 26, 1987 "the Joint Declaration between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Portuguese Republic Concerning the Question of Macao and two annexes: "the Explanations of the Government of the People's Republic of China on its basic policies towards Macao" and "Concerning Arrangements in the Transitional Period".On April 13 of the same year, the Prime Ministers of the two countries formally signed the Joint Declaration respectively on behalf of their Governments. On January 15, 1988, the two Governments exchanged instruments of ratification and the Joint Declaration came into effect from that date.It was provided in the Joint Declaration that the Government of the People's Republic of Chinaresumed the exercise of its sovereignty over Macaoas of December 20, 1999.In the Joint Declaration, the Chinese Government expounded its fundamental policies on the settlement of the question of Macao.The signing of the Joint Declaration has set an example of a peaceful settlement of questions left over by history and international disputes and has been of vast realistic significance to the promotion of the cause of world peace and progress.
At the mid-night of December 19, 1999, the Chinese and Portuguese sides successfully held a ceremony in the Garden Hall of the Macao Cultural Centre for the transfer of the political power of Macao.The Chinese Government Delegation led by Chinese President Jiang Zemin and the Portuguese Government Delegation led by Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio were present at the ceremony.Distinguished guests from more than 50 countries and over 20 international organizations and personalities from different walks of life in Macao, totalling 2,500, attended the ceremony on invitation.At zero hour of December 20, the Chinese Government resumed the exercise of the sovereignty over Macao, and the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region was proclaimed.
Immediately after that, the Chinese Government held a ceremony of the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region and the oath-taking of the Government of the Region.The First Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region Edmund Ho Hau Wah, the principal government officials of the Region, members of the Legislative Assembly, President of the Court of Final Appeal and Chief Public Prosecutor were sworn in to office.At noon12 o'clockof December 20, the station troops in Macaoof the Chinese People's Liberation Army moved into Macao.The smooth return of Macaoto the motherland and the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region are another historical monument in the process of the great cause of the Chinese people to realize the reunification of the motherland following the return of Hong Kong.
2. Political structure
The Chief Executive is the head of the Macao Special Administrative Region, accountable to the Central People's Government and the Macao Special Administrative Region.The Chief Executive should be a Chinese citizen of not less than 40 years of age who is a permanent resident of the Macao Special Administrative Region with no right of abode in any foreign country and has ordinarily resided in Macaofor a continuous period of not less than 20 years.The Chief Executive is selected by election or through consultations held locally and appointed by the Central Government.The term of office of the Executive is five years.He or she may serve for not more than two consecutive terms.On May 15, 1999, the Selection Committee of the Macao Special Administrative Region composed of Macaoresidents elected Ho Hau Wah as the first Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region by secret ballot on the principle of fairness, impartiality, openness, democracy and honesty.On May 24, Premier Zhu Rongji issued to Ho Hau Wah, on behalf of the State Council, a decree of the State Council to appoint him as the first Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region.On December 20, Ho Hau Wah took an oath of office.
The Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region is the administrative organ of Macaoand the head of government is the Chief Executive.The Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region has set up departments, bureaus, offices and divisions.The Secretary for Administration and Justice, the Secretary for Economy and Finance, the Secretary for Security, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, the Commissioner Against Corruption, the Commissioner for Audit, the Commissioner General of the Unitary Police Service and the Director-General of the Macao Customs Service are principal government officials of the Region.The principal officials should be Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of the Macao Special Administrative Region with no right of abode in any foreign country and have ordinarily resided in Macaofor a continuous period of not less than 15 years.The Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region exercises its powers and functions in accordance with the provisions of Article 64 of the Basic Law, mainly including the formulation and implementation of policies, the conduction of administrative affairs, the handling of external affairs as authorized by the Central People's Government, the drawing up and introduction of budgets and final accounts, the working out and introduction of bills and motions and the drafting of subordinate legislation, etc.
The Executive Council of the Macao Special Administrative Region is an organ for assisting the Chief Executive in policy-making.It meets at least once a month, presided over by the Chief Executive.Members of the Executive Council should be Chinese citizens who are permanent residents of the Macao Special Administrative Region with no right of abode in any foreign country.They are appointed by the Chief Executive from among principal government officials, members of the Legislative Assembly and public figures.The number of the members of the Executive Council is 7-11 persons.At present there are 10 members in total.Except for the appointment, removal and disciplining of officials and the adoption of measures in emergencies, the Chief Executive should consult the Executive Council before making important policy decisions, introducing bills to the Legislative Assembly, making subordinate legislation, or dissolving the Legislative Assembly.
The legislative power of the Macao Special Administrative Region is vested in the Legislative Assembly of the Macao Special Administrative Region. The term of office of the Legislative Assembly is four years except the first term that was stipulated separately.The Legislative Assembly exercises its powers and functions in accordance with the provisions of Article 71 of the Basic Law.The main powers and functions are: to enact, amend or repeal laws in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law and legal procedures; to examine and approve budgets introduced by the government; to deliberate upon reports on the implementation of budges advanced by the government; to decide on taxation in accordance with government bills and approve debts assumed by the government; to receive and debate policy addresses of the Chief Executive; to debate any issue concerning public interests; to receive and handle complaints from Macao residents, etc.The first Legislative Assembly of the Region was composed of 23 members, including 8 members returned by direct election, 8 members returned by indirect election and 7 appointed members.The Legislative Assembly has a President and a Vice President.The term of office of the members of the first Legislative Assembly lasted until October 15, 2001. The election for the second Legislative Assembly was held on September 23, 2001.The second Legislative Assembly is composed of 27 members, including 10 members returned by direct election, 10 members returned by indirect election and 7 appointed members.
The judicial power of the Macao Special Administrative Region is vested in the courts of the Macao Special Administrative Region. The Region has lower courts, intermediate courts and the Court of Final Appeal.The power of final adjudication is vested in the Court of Final Appeal of the Macao Special Administrative Region.The courts of the Region have jurisdiction over all cases in the Region, except that the restriction on their jurisdiction imposed by the legal system and principles previously in force in Macaoare maintained.But the courts of the Region have no jurisdiction over acts of state such defence and foreign affairs.The courts of the Region should obtain a certificate from the Chief Executive on questions of fact concerning acts of state such as defence and foreign affairs whenever such questions arise in the adjudication of cases.The certificate is binding on the courts.Before issuing such a certificate, the Chief Executive should obtain a certifying document from the Central People's Government.Judges of the courts of the Macao Special Administrative Region are appointed by the Chief Executive on the recommendation of an independent commission composed of local judges, lawyers and eminent persons from other sectors.The presidents of the courts at all levels are appointed by the Chief Executive from among the judges.The President of the Court of Final Appeal should be a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident of the Macao Special Administrative Region.The appointments and removals of the President and judges of the Court of Final Appeal should be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the record.
Macaois a free port.In the past, it had only handicraft industry such as making firecrackers, matches and incense, and the economy has for a long time relied on the gambling industry.In the period from the mid sixties to the mid eighties, the export processing industry gave impetus to a rapid development of the economy in Macao.Starting from the eighties, the economy in Macaobegan to present a high-speed growth and gradually formed four main industries: the tourist and gambling industry, the export processing industry, the financial and insurance industry and the building and real estate industry.Those four main industries played a decisive role in the economy.Upon entering into the nineties, the economy in Macaomoved into a period of readjustment and the speed of development slowed down..After the return of Macaoto the motherland, the economy gradually got out of the trough, presenting a state of an upturn.In 2002, the economy in Macaocontinued to grow.The total output value for the year was approximately 54.1 billion patacas, and the growth rate was 9.5%.The tourists coming to Macaofor the year totalled 11.53 million person-times.The total volume of the import and export trade was 39.25 billion patacas, of which the volume of export was 18.93 billion patacas, and the volume of import was 20.32 billion patacas, with the trade deficit being about 1.4 billion patacas.
4. External affairs
Since the return of Macao, with the support and assistance of the Central People's Government, the Macao Special Administrative Region has made new advances in external affairs.
The Macao Special Administrative Region has participated in the activities of 11 intergovernmental international organizations in the capacity permitted by the Central Government and the international organizations concerned and has joined 29 non-intergovernmental international organizations in the name of "Macao, China".
Authorized by the Central Government, the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region has signed or amended civil aviation agreements with 9 countries, signed agreements on mutual exemption of visa with 7 countries, and signed with Portugalan agreement on legal and judicial assistance and an agreement on mutual encouragement and protection of investments
Starting from December 20, 1999, a total of 156 international conventions have been applicable to the Macao Special Administrative Region.From the time of the return of Macaoup to January 2003, the application of 32 international conventions in total has been proposed either by the Central Government to seek the opinion of the Region or by the Government of the Region on its own initiative, some of which have already been applicable to the Region.Up to June 2003, 41 countries or regions had given the treatment of exemption of visa for entry to hol