The United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China has suggested that Washington should urge Macau officials to initiate a transition to an electoral system based on universal suffrage.
In its annual report published last week, the Commission said that it observed no progress regarding the UN Human Rights Committee’s 2013 recommendations that Macau should “set timelines for the transition to an electoral system based on universal and equal suffrage.”
The report draws on a set of findings related to political developments in Hong Kong and Macau, as well as mainland China.
In the document, the Commission recalls that Macau Legislative Assembly expanded from 29 to 33 members, although only 14 are directly elected. It also reiterates that the incumbent Chief Executive Chui Sai On was re-elected unopposed in August, winning 380 of 400 possible votes from Macau’s Election Committee.
The Commission urges US delegations to meet with members of the Legislative Assembly, particularly directly elected lawmakers, with the Macau government administration as well as civic leaders outside of the government.
The report mentions challenges that Macau faces when dealing with corruption and money laundering from mainland China linked to the gambling industry, saying that these crimes remain as sources of concern. “Gamblers continued to evade mainland China’s currency-export restrictions, both through the use of junkets and the fraudulent use of credit and debit cards,” it reads.
In May, Macau officials and China’s state-backed payment card network said they cracked down on the use of bogus transactions which used to sometimes circumvent China’s exchange controls for the gambling industry. Gamblers have been illegally using UnionPay cards to obtain cash through fake purchases of goods in Macau, in order to avoid China’s strict currency-
The report recalls that unlike Hong Kong, Macau’s Basic Law does not mention universal suffrage. Nevertheless, it includes a provision ensuring the applicability of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in the MSAR. The Commission says that it observed “reports of self-censorship and restrictions on freedom of the press in contravention of the ICCPR.”
The Commission also mentioned the unofficial referendum on universal suffrage launched in August by three pro-democracy groups, and arrests made in connection with the poll.
Furthermore, the report draws on observations relating to the freedom of expression, stating that there are “continued reports of self-censorship by journalists and concern over government control of broadcast media.”
The report focus on two other particular cases that occurred during 2014: the dismissal of professor and political scientist Eric Sautede from the University of Saint Joseph and the firing of Professor Bill Chou from the University of Macau.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China is chaired by Senator Sherrod Brown and co-chaired by representative Christopher Smith. As China prepared to enter the World Trade Organization, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China was created to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China.
‘Increase support for HK democracy’
The United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China has recommended that the American government increase its support for Hong Kong’s democracy in its latest report. They added that the US government should urge Hong Kong and China’s government officials to institute universal suffrage in line with the requirements of the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) for the elections of the Chief Executive in 2017 and the Legislative Council in 2020. “Increase support for Hong Kong’s democracy through statements and meetings at the highest level and visits to Hong Kong,” it reads.
The Commission observed developments “that raised concerns about the state of democratic development, press freedom and government transparency in Hong Kong.”