Macau's experience of 'one country, two systems’

Unlike Hong Kong, Macau's citizens were never promised the vote 20 years ago, so expectations are different

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Xi Jinping arrives in Macau for anniversary. Hong Kong protesters.

Xi Jinping arrives in Macau for anniversary. Hong Kong protesters. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As Macau prepares to celebrate 20 years under Chinese governance on Friday (Dec. 20), its attitude toward China has been contrasted with Hong Kong.

Beijing has praised Macau as a paradigm of the "one country, two systems" idea it hopes to impose upon Taiwan. However, the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong paints this system in a very different light.

"Macau is much better than Hong Kong now," said one 73-year-old Macau resident in an interview with RFA. "My son is working there and he is seriously affected. I wonder why those protesters don't do anything better than create chaos."

"We definitely wish President Xi (Jinping) will visit often and try to understand what local citizens expect for Macau," said a local restaurant owner. "Another upsetting conflict in Hong Kong occurred recently, so people like me from the older generation simply hope our youths can look for a better future."

The 12-3 incident in Portuguese Macau in 1966 heralded the rise of communism in the city. The defeated colonial government had to obey the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and dispense with Kuomintang (KMT) influence.

After this time, Macau oscillated between the Portuguese government and the communist party, while neighboring countries profited from global capitalism. Pro-Beijing groups infiltrated Macau society and as a result its citizens were eager to return to China.

As a "semi-liberated" colony before its handover to China, Macau never enjoyed freedom and democracy during its colonial era. Owing to the city's low economic significance and lack of sovereign ideology, CCP did not promise the city suffrage, as it did for Hongkongers.

"Compared to Macau, young people in Hong Kong participated more in politics than the last generation, but Macau remains the same as it was decades ago," Chou Kwok-ping, associate professor from the Faculty of Social Science of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told RFA.

“The focus on economic activities and low social involvement in Macau indicate the fear of political participation among the citizens,” he said.

On August 19th, Macau police arrested three people in front of Senado Square, in a silent protest against the brutality of police during Hong Kong’s protests.