China’s central government expects to see Macau reinforce regulation of its gaming industry, and strengthen efforts to diversify the sector by offering further non-gaming products.
So said on Tuesday Fu Ziying, the Beijing official acting as the chief day-to-day contact point between the city and the national authorities. Mr Fu, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macau Special Administrative Region, reportedly made the comments in Beijing to Macau delegates to the National People’s Congress. The body began a sitting this week.
The meeting between Mr Fu and the Macau delegates took place at the start of what is known in China as the “Two sessions” – the annual meetings respectively of the national legislature, the National People’s Congress; and the country’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Chinese-language media from the mainland and Macau reported the official as saying Macau should strengthen regulation of the gaming industry and focus its effort in managing economic and financial risks.
In terms of day-to-day operational scrutiny of the casino industry, it emerged last week that Macau casino industry representatives had pledged to the city’s authorities to help curb illicit currency exchange reported to have taken place in or near the city’s casinos.
Mr Fu mentioned in his Tuesday remarks that the Macau government should ensure it monitored efficiently trends in the city’s gaming business and also kept track of external economic conditions that could possibly affect such business.
The official further stated that the Macau government should continue to provide guidance to the casino operators in terms of “diversifying” their development; namely via non-gaming offerings. He spoke in positive terms about Macau casino operators’ efforts so far regarding non-gaming business, such as provision of shopping facilities and space for conventions and exhibitions, and said that such endeavours should continue.
‘Centre’ and ‘Platform’
Beijing’s representative stressed that Macau should make fresh efforts to cultivate new industries and continue work on “One Centre, One Platform”.
That was a reference to trying to ensure Macau is not so dependent on Chinese tourists, and using Macau’s historical links to the lusophone world to further trade, economic and cultural ties between that language community and China. Locally the approach is also referred to as, respectively aspirations for Macau to be a “world centre of tourism and leisure” and a “commercial and trade cooperation service platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries”.
Mr Fu was quoted as saying of Macau: “There’s not much room for us – a place of only 30 square kilometres [11.6 sq miles] and 600,000 people – to transition into something else. How to achieve a transition [of the economy] and make it more diversified? I think the only and important way is to actively integrate into the national development plan.”
The official noted that Macau could play a role in China’s strategy regarding the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area – a central government initiative to integrate the economy and people of mainland China’s Guangdong province with the economies of Macau and Hong Kong – as a route to local economic diversification.
Mr Fu was appointed as the head of the Liaison Office in Macau in late December, following the death in Macau of his predecessor. Mr Fu had been Chinese international trade representative and vice-minister of commerce since March 2017, having served for many years in the government department that evolved into the present-day Ministry of Commerce.
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DS Kim, Jeremy An and Christine Wang
Analysts at brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd