Macau is China's route to Taiwan
Sunday 12 December 1999
There will be a national holiday, and China's top leaders will fly to Macau for the handover - not to party, or even to try their luck in Macau's famous casinos, but to hammer home a clear political message.
The end of Portuguese administration in Macau marks the end of 442 years of "humiliating" European control over parts of China. More significantly, once Macau, like Hong Kong, is in the bag, then only Taiwan is outside Peking's control. And the underlying reason for Peking pulling out all the stops for the three tiny islands of Macau - population, less than half a million - is that it wants to woo renegade Taiwan on to the same path of reunification.
"Taiwan is now the major issue for Peking," commented Jia Qingguo, associate dean of Peking's University of International Studies. Ever since the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Peking has been offering a similar "one country, two systems" formula to the island. With Macau soon under the same formula, the pressure on Taiwan is bound to grow.
According to sources in the Chinese capital, President Jiang Zemin will lead the first move, a full-scale propaganda campaign aimed at the three main candidates for Taiwan's presidential elections in March. The message is likely to be a very hard sell to Taiwan, which has been a separate political entity since 1949 when China's defeated nationalist government fled there after civil war with the Communists.
But far from responding positively to Peking's overtures, Taiwan's President, Lee Teng-hui, raised tensions in July by insisting that all contact between Peking and Taipei be on a "state-to-state" basis. That sent alarm- bells ringing on the mainland and throughout the region, as Peking had vowed to take the island by force should it declare official independence.
Macau remains an important bridge between Taiwan and China, with about 850,000 visitors from Taiwan passing through to the mainland each year. They are represented by the Taipei Trade and Tourism Office. But Peking finds even that hard to stomach. Chinese officials want the title toned down, to sound less official. It's not a move likely to endear Peking to Taiwan.
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...