HONG KONG Oct 11 Chinese premier Li Keqiang has
pledged to support Macau, the world's largest gambling hub, with
a series of policies including setting up a renminbi clearing
centre for Portuguese-speaking countries, the Xinhua newsagency
reported on Tuesday.
Li, speaking during a three-day visit to the Chinese
territory, said he expected Macau to push development as a
global tourism and leisure centre and as a service platform for
economic and trade cooperation between China and
Referring to Macau as the "treasured soil of the lotus
flower of the motherland", Li praised the former Portuguese
colony as a good example of the 'one country, two systems'
principle on which both Macau and the neighbouring financial hub
of Hong Kong are modelled.
Li said the central government recognised Macau's work in
successfully tackling challenges as Macau's economy has
experienced "adjustment" over the past two years and making new
In contrast, calls for independence in Hong Kong, a former
British colony, have increased over recent years, exacerbating
tensions in the free-wheeling business hub as residents campaign
to preserve their city's freedom in the face of what they see as
Beijing's bid to curb them.
Li's visit to Macau came as gambling revenues grew for the
second consecutive month in October after more than two years of
declines. The special administrative region is the only place in
China where residents can gamble legally in casinos.
The central government has been pushing Macau to diversify
away from casinos due to its economic dependence on the
industry, which contributes more than 80 percent of government
New policies also include supporting Macau in hosting an
"annual global tourism economy forum, creating influential
conventions and exhibitions, and establishing the headquarters
of the cooperation and development fund between China and
Portuguese-speaking countries", the official Xinhua agency said
without giving further details.
Last December, China granted tiny Macau, which has an area
of 30 sq km (12 sq miles), control over its surrounding sea for
the first time to help boost its economic development, more than
tripling its size.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Paul Tait)