China and Portugal Begin Talks on Macao
PEKING (AP) _ China and Portugal opened talks Monday on returning Macao, the Portuguese colony and renown gambling resort near Hong Kong, to Chinese control.
China and Portugal announced last year that they would discuss the return of the territory, which Lisbon has held since Portuguese merchants occupied it in 1557 as a base for China trade.
The first round of talks follows the 1984 agreement between China and Britain on the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
Unlike Hong Kong, which was to automatically revert to Chinese control in 1997 when the British lease expired, there is no deadline for the Portuguese government to turn over Macao, which has 400,000 residents.
When the head of the Portuguese delegation, United Nations Ambassador Rui Barbosa Medina, arrived Friday, Chinese Vice Minister Zhou Nan said the ″talks between China and Portugal to solve the problem left from history will be very harmonious. ... The talks will be between friends, not opponents.″
The Chinese say they plan to model the Macao takeover on the ″one country, two systems″ principle that will allow Hong Kong to remain capitalist for 50 years after 1997.
The Chinese have said Macao’s gambling casinos will be allowed to remain in business, although gambling is illegal in China.
The Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong was reached after two years of closed-door negotiations.