China, Portugal Agree on Macau
MACAU (AP) _ Beijing and Lisbon have reached consensus on the stationing of Chinese troops in Macau, a newspaper reported Tuesday, resolving a key sticking point in negotiations on the transfer of sovereignty next month.
The two sides have reached key agreements on the enclave’s military arrangements after Portugal returns Macau to Chinese sovereignty Dec. 20, the pro-Beijing Macau Daily News said.
They also formalized an earlier agreement to allow a military technical team into Macau before the handover, the paper said.
The paper quoted diplomats on the Joint Liaison Group, which wrapped up a new round of talks in Macau on Monday, but gave no other details.
In Lisbon, a Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed that the negotiators in Macau have ratified an agreement that China will send an unarmed technical advance team to assess logistical requirements for the post-handover military deployment.
That agreement was reached during a visit to Lisbon by Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan last month.
Portugal, which withdrew its own troops from Macau in 1975, has said the enclave is too small for a military presence, and that it would not allow a Chinese advance guard in before it leaves.
China hopes a military presence will help restore order. Security has deteriorated in recent years as gangsters fight over dwindling profits from the casinos, the backbone of Macau’s economy.
Most Chinese residents in Macau welcome the military.
Like Hong Kong, Macau will become a semiautonomous Special Administrative Region, but Beijing will control defense and foreign affairs.
About 150 Chinese troops of Macau’s post-handover garrison arrived last month at a new 37-acre compound in Zhuhai, across the border from Macau.
Analysts expect the garrison to comprise 800 to 1,000 troops.