Postcard from... Macau


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The Independent Online

There’s an easy way to get around free in Macau. Just hop on any of the shuttle buses that ferry millions of annual visitors to and from casinos.

Most aspects of the Chinese-controlled city are geared towards gambling and entertainment. A large chunk of its landmass was reclaimed from the sea for casino space.

The former Portuguese colony is the only place in China where casinos are legal, and it dwarfs even Las Vegas in gaming revenue.

But this one-trick economy has become a problem,  according to China’s government. Since President Xi Jinping began a corruption crackdown in 2012, ostentatious displays of wealth are out of fashion. That and a slowdown in the mainland’s economy have seen the city’s biggest economic contraction since 2009. Now Li Fei, China’s official for Hong Kong and Macau affairs, has told the city’s leadership to cultivate other industries, for “the socioeconomic stability and developmental interest of  the mainland”.

The city’s leader, Fernando Chui, has just replaced his entire cabinet. If they need motivation, later this month Macau celebrates 15 years since handover to China.  The key dignitary will be President Xi – not a man Dr Chui would like to disappoint.