China lays down law on Macau's gambling habit
President Xi Jinping calls for greater control over ex-colony's casinos

China’s President Xi Jinping has called on Macau, one of the world’s top gambling resorts, to strengthen regulation, Chinese media reported Sunday, in a move seen as linked to China’s anti-corruption drive.

Ending a visit to the former Portuguese colony, Xi urged the Macau government to find "greater courage and wisdom" to "strengthen and improve regulation and supervision over the gaming industry," the South China Morning Post said.

The enclave, which marked the 15th anniversary of its return to China Saturday, derives more than 85 percent of its government revenue from gambling.

Situated across the Pearl River estuary from China’s other former European colony Hong Kong, the Macau administration now faces pressure to find other income streams.

Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on said the government would "undertake a review" of the casino industry in spring, the Post reported.

Coupled with the global economic slowdown, China’s anti-corruption drive, launched by Xi last year, has already had a negative effect on Macau’s gaming industry.

Last week the Post revealed China is to launch a major crackdown on the multibillion-dollar flow of illegal funds through the former colony’s casinos, led by the Ministry of Public Security.

The initiative will see the ministry's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau given access to all records of transfers through the UnionPay bank payment system to identify suspicious transactions.

The bureau is leading Operation Fox Hunt, aimed at extradicting corrupt officials who have fled overseas and funnelled millions of dollars in illicit funds out of China.

Meanwhile, Xi spoke Saturday about China’s resolve to strengthen the "one country, two systems” policy that applies to China's relationships with Macau and Hong Kong, state news agency Xinhua said.

Pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, which ended a week ago after two-and-a-half months, had called into question China’s control over the territory.

"No matter what difficulties or challenges we may encounter, they could never shake our confidence and resolve to uphold the principle and advance the practice of 'one country, two systems,'" Xi said at a gathering to mark the 15th anniversary.

He added: "Never in history have we been closer to the goal of the great renewal of the Chinese nation and never in history have we had greater confidence and capability to realize this goal.”

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Last Modified: 2014-12-22 12:18:36
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