Macao’s changes to the national security statute significantly limit political freedoms.

The former Portuguese colony of Macao has altered its legal system to address “new adverse circumstances in terms of national security,” mirroring the crackdown on liberties in neighboring Hong Kong.

The tiny enclave’s government, which is largely reliant on its casino sector, claimed that the Law on Safeguarding National Security needed to be updated as a result of legislation that was first passed in 2009, ten years after Macao was transferred to Chinese authority.

The government stated that the reform of Macao’s Law on Safeguarding National Security is a necessary move to effectively address dangers and threats because the country is currently facing new detrimental challenges in terms of national security.

It made no mention of the amendments made on Thursday by the rubber-stamp legislature of the special administrative zone.

However, the Communist Party in charge of China asserted in the Global Times newspaper on Friday that the changes target spies and “foreign interference” in addition to people who support Taiwan independence.” According to the publication, it also broadens the definition of crimes such aiding and abetting insurrection and having a plan or purpose to commit such criminal acts.

Such changes would tighten Beijing’s control and bring Macao’s legal system closer into line with that of mainland China, especially if they included outside influence, which has been vaguely defined and generally applied in Hong Kong and includes any contact with a foreign political or civil rights entity.

In contrast to the former British colony Hong Kong, where months of occasionally violent anti-government protests in 2019 resulted in a massive crackdown, Macao has showed little sign of such unrest.

The majority of its 686,000 residents are recent mainland migrants who appear ready to accept authoritarian party rule as long as its casinos continue to draw clients, primarily from China. It was promised to Macao and Hong Kong that they would keep their distinctive political, social, and economic freedoms for 50 years after they returned to Chinese authority in 1997.

The approval of the legislation was applauded in Beijing by the Cabinet’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, which noted that the “constantly changing and intricate international environment offers fresh difficulties for protecting national security in both regions.”

In the meantime, Hong Kong restricted the city’s liberties by removing books about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and particular political individuals from its libraries. The mayor of the city stated on Thursday that citizens will not be advised to read books that promote vague “bad ideologies” by public libraries.

The book withdrawal, according to detractors, would further damage Hong Kong’s reputation for freedom of expression and information access, particularly in light of recent curriculum revisions that play down controversial topics and instill patriotism.

The city’s independent media has been destroyed since Beijing implemented a National Security Law in 2020, and the city’s election system has been changed to ensure that only pro-Beijing views are represented. Opposition personalities have also been detained, threatened into silence, or driven into exile.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *