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Govt rejects ‘baseless” US Congress report

The Macau government yesterday said in a strongly worded statement Thursday that the 2018 Annual Report by the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) contains “groundless and baseless claims” and makes “inappropriate” comments about Macau’s internal affairs.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:44 am

The Macau government yesterday said in a strongly worded statement Thursday that the 2018 Annual Report by the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) contains “groundless and baseless claims” and makes “inappropriate” comments about Macau’s internal affairs.

“Macau’s internal affairs are a domestic matter for China: foreign countries have no right to interfere in China’s domestic affairs,” the statement issued in Chinese, Portuguese and English said. The three versions were not identical.

The Portuguese version, for instance, accused the bipartisan commission of making “irresponsible” comments in the report, while the English version said that the comments were “inappropriate”.

The Portuguese version said that the government was “categorically” rejecting the report, whereas the English version said that the government had expressed its “strong opposition” to the report.

A U.S. Congress annual report highlighted that the region’s electoral system is not developing according to recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Committee The report also expressed concerns over the denial of entry of political figures and writers.

In the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2018 report, the congress is calling on the Chinese and Macau governments to set a timeline for implementing elections in Macau for Chief Executive (CE) and the Legislative Assembly (AL) by universal suffrage.

“This past year, proposed legislative amendments, the suspension of a pro-democracy legislator, Sulu Sou, and the denial of entry to Macau of political figures and writers raised concerns regarding Macau’s autonomy and rule of law,” the report noted.

The document recalled that Sou’s suspension marked the first time that a lawmaker has been suspended from his duties since the Macau handover in 1999.

It recalled that pro-democracy group New Macau Association submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of China calling for direct elections for the CE, AL and members of the newly proposed municipal administration body that would replace the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau.

It also highlighted the proposed revision of the basic law of the judicial organization, which prevents foreign judges from deciding in cases of national security.

The US Congress recalled Portuguese lawyers have been “alarmed” by the proposal and feared that it may “violate Macau’s Basic Law and further erode the independence of the city’s judiciary.”

“This past year, proposed legislative amendments raised concerns regarding Macau’s autonomy and rule of law. In March 2018, the government completed a draft law amending Macau’s Judicial Framework Law to bar foreign judges from hearing national security and defense cases,” it noted.

Regarding the draft law on cyber security, the report highlighted the concerns of the region’s IT sector industry, who views that the legislation is not warranted and it raises concerns from cyber industries about the interpretation and impact of the law.

The report also mention a “warning” that the SAR could not guarantee entry to several book authors, including U.K.-based writer and Mao Zedong biographer Jung Chang.

“Immigration authorities denied pro-democracy and centrist Hong Kong politicians entry to Macau this past year, citing concerns over their participation in activities ‘‘which may jeopardize the public security of the SAR,” the report stated.

The congress also added a statement from PEN Hong Kong, an international advocacy organization for freedom of expression, which noted that the lack of assurance for the entry of authors ‘‘infringes directly on the right of freedom of expression’’ in Macau.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:44 am

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