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China and Portugal Agree on Return of Macao

March 23, 1987

BEIJING (AP) _ Macao will return to China in the year 1999, ending more than 400 years of Portuguese rule, Portugal’s ambassador to Beijing said Monday.

Ambassador Octavio Valerio told reporters that the tiny enclave of 450,000 off southern China will revert to Chinese sovereignty on Dec. 20, 1999.

Macao is Portugal’s last overseas possession and the last Western colonial foothold in China.

China and Portugal, which have held nine months of talks on the Macao question, opened their fourth round last Wednesday. Valerio confirmed that the talks concluded Monday and that his country was ″happy with the results.″

Valerio provided no details about the agreement.

Portuguese traders settled Macao in 1557 and Portuguese is the official language of government. About 97 percent of Macao’s people are of Chinese origin.

Gambling is Macao’s biggest draw, attracting more than 4 million tourists a year and accounting for 25 percent of the enclave’s tax revenue. The Chinese have said they will not shut down the casinos, although gambling is illegal in China.

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