| Friday, December 17, 1999, updated at 15:51(GMT+8)
Editorial Solution of Transition-Related Issues Essential to Sino-Portuguese Cooperation
The solution of major transition-related issues of Macao, especially the substantial progress made in solving the three major ones left over by history, the localization of civil servants, the localization of laws and the status of Chinese as an official language, has laid a solid basis for the friendly cooperation between China and Portugal.
Under the rule of Portuguese government, the Chinese people have been long excluded from the medium- and high level official posts of the Macao government. The laws enacted in Macao are those drawn up especially for Macao by Portugal or those Portuguese laws extended to the region.
Legislation of Macao is made in Portuguese, and judicial system of Macao is incomplete. The Chinese language used by Macao's Chinese residents that constitute 96 percent of the local population has been deprived of legal recognition for a long time.
The three issues, which are important in the transition period, have a bearing on the smooth transition and the normal operation of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) after its establishment on December 20, 1999. The Chinese side has attached much importance to these issues, which have also drawn great concern from various communities of Macao.
Since the signing of the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration in 1987, the solution of the three major transition-related issues have been in progress at various degrees with the concerted efforts of both China and Portugal and the active participation of the various communities of Macao.
A special work group responsible for handling the three issues was set up by the Sino-Portuguese Joint Liaison Group (JLG). A total of 27 meetings were held from December 13, 1990 to March 23, 1999. Both sides held that China and Portugal had made sound cooperation at the work group, which yielded noted achievements.
Localization of the civil servants has witnessed considerable progress, especially in 1999. At present, the civil servants at the medium- and grassroots levels are almost Macao residents, while more than half of the high-ranking civil servants are Macao residents.
After the Macao SAR government swears in on December 20, five secretaries appointed by the Central Government will assume office to ultimately realize the localization of civil servants at policy-making level in Macao.
With the efforts of the Chinese side in the past ten years, localization of laws has almost been completed. Amendments of the five major laws, namely the Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, the Civil Code, the Commercial Code and the Civil Procedure Code, have been finished.
Copies in Chinese are available for most of the laws formulated since 1990 and the Legislative Assembly of Macao began to use the Chinese language in legislation.
Since the first Chinese judge assumed office in 1996, the judicial officer team of Macao has now more than 20 Chinese judges and 5 Chinese lawyers, who have paved the way for the transition of law professionals in Macao.
According to the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Macao SAR Basic Law, the Chinese language, whose legal status will be above the Portuguese, will be the main official language of the Macao SAR, after China resumes the exercise of sovereignty over Macao.
It is thus an imperative task in the transitional period to change the status of Portuguese as the sole official language in Macao.
Foreign ministers of China and Portugal reached agreement on the official status of the Chinese language in 1991 in Lisbon. A code on the official status of the Chinese language in Macao was also adopted and promulgated by Portugal's ministerial meeting in December 1991. Chinese began to become an official language in Macao.
Bilingual forms closely related to the daily life of Macao residents have been almost adopted by the Portuguese Macao government. New laws and codes have been worked out in Chinese and Portuguese by the legislature. Simultaneous interpretation of Chinese and Portuguese have been gradually taken by the judiciary in trying a case. The Chinese judges began to try cases in Chinese.
Joaquim Pina Moura, Minister of Finance and Economy of Portugal, said the transfer of power of Macao was a new challenge to Portugal, that is seeking ways under new circumstance to develop ties with China, and it is of great importance to the economic sector and enterprises in Portugal.
Experts held that a closer tie between Macao and the Chinese mainland is expected after the return of Macao, and the "elements of China" will be more prominent to the economic growth of Macao.
Portugal will obtain a favorable situation to extend cooperation with China in various fields through the future Macao SAR, by making use of Macao's free economic system, extensive international links and preferential economic policy, as well as various advantages of Hong Kong.
The return of Macao to China, which will take place just before Portugal take its return as president of the European Union in January 1, 2000, will bring opportunities for Europe and Asia, for Portugal and China in particular, to develop cooperation among enterprises and in the scientific and technological fields, said experts.Printer-friendly Version In This Section
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