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Macao's “One Country, Two Systems”: High Autonomy or Intervention?
Eilo Yu Wing-yat
Source PublicationNegotiating Autonomy in Greater China Hong Kong and its Sovereign Before and After 1997
Author of SourceRay Yep
PublisherNIAS Press
Other Abstract

 The “One Country, Two Systems" model was introduced by the People's Republic of China (PRC) for the resumption of its sovereignty over Hong Kong, which embraces the principles of “a high degree of autonomy” and “Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong”. However, the Hong Kong experience has not yet proved the success of “One Country, Two Systems” for unification for the past sixteen years since the handover. Clashes and conflicts between the central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) have marked the painful transition from British colony to China’s SAR. Various events, such as the National People’s Congress’s (NPC) interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law on the right-of-abode issue, Beijing’s role in the HKSAR’s political development and its involvement in elections, as well as legislation for national security, show the intervention, to varying extents, of the central government in HKSAR governance, hence bringing a scepticism about local autonomy as promised in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law.

In contrast to Hong Kong, Macao – another SAR of China – has developed and maintained a relatively good relationship with the central government. Its NPC has not interpreted Macao Basic Law in any court case in the MSAR, and there is no central and local dispute on the political reform of Macao. Different than its Hong Kong counterpart, the MSAR is deemed to be cooperative regarding the legislation of national security law to protect national interests in the locality. Bill Chou argues that the MSAR does enjoy a high degree autonomy from the central government. Hence, local autonomy is not an issue at all in the central and MSAR relationship.

What has led to Macao enjoying “high autonomy”, as Chou states, while Hong Kong’s local autonomy seems to be suffering under the “One Country, Two Systems” model? This chapter investigates the central government and MSAR relationship and explains the relatively autonomous MSAR regime. Four factors contribute to this phenomenon: a dominant pro-Beijing ruling coalition, the cooperation of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, a weak opposition and civil society, and the public’s attitude toward Beijing. Macao society does not challenge the intervention of the Mainland authorities in the MSAR in regard to local autonomy; rather, local people consider Beijing’s involvement to be for the betterment of the MSAR. The chapter further argues that Macao has better integrated into Mainland Chinese politics, that Mainland authorities have successfully infiltrated MSAR authorities, and that working relationships have been established with various political forces in the locality, as per Lo’s mainlandization process concerning the HKSAR. However, in truth, a central and MSAR tension is in place and the relationship may not be described by the words “harmony” and “smooth”, as Alex Choi has argued.7 The MSAR government officials collude with Mainland authorities in the MSAR so that they may disregard central policy and defence for their local interests, hence leading to a central and local conflict.

Fulltext Access
Document TypeBook chapter
CollectionFaculty of Social Sciences
AffiliationUniversity of Macau
First Author AffilicationUniversity of Macau
Recommended Citation
GB/T 7714
Eilo Yu Wing-yat. Macao's “One Country, Two Systems”: High Autonomy or Intervention?:NIAS Press,2013:207-241.
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