HONG KONG (AP) _ China is asking a transition committee for advice on curbing growing lawlessness in Macau when the Portuguese colony returns to Chinese control next year, a newspaper reported today.

Macau, a Portuguese enclave 40 miles west of Hong Kong, draws half its government revenue from legal gambling. Amid Asia's economic crisis, gangs are believed to be fighting over a shrinking pool of gambling-related profits.

Three civil servants, including the No. 3 gambling inspector, have been shot dead in broad daylight since March. On Friday, 25 firebombings gutted vehicles across the territory.

A senior Chinese official, Qian Qichen, asked the 100-member committee overseeing Macau's return to China to come up with ``major measures and policy-style suggestions'' to deal with crime, the China-backed Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported today.

Macau, like Hong Kong before it, will be part of China but largely autonomous.