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Macao: EU report highlights increasing challenges to political rights and fundamental freedoms

The European Commission and the High Representative recently (20 May 2022) reported on political and economic developments in the Macao Special Administrative Region, covering 2021.

The report highlights that, in 2021, the way in which the ‘one country, two systems' principle was implemented undermined the political rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Macao.

The annual report refers in particular to the increasing challenges for Macao's media to express a broad range of views, and the practice of more and more self-censorship. The election of the Legislative Assembly of the Macao SAR which took place on 12 September had the lowest level since the handover in 1999. Before the election, for the first time, the authorities in Macao disqualified 21 candidates for not pledging allegiance to the SAR or supporting the Basic Law.

The report points out that fighting the pandemic and supporting the economy remained the government's key priorities in 2021.

The Macao government has exercised stringent control on the spread of COVID-19 to ensure quarantine-free travel with Mainland China. The ongoing travel restrictions have continued to prevent officials from the EU Office to Hong Kong and Macao from visiting Macao. This has hindered the Office's work and limited contacts with SAR government officials and others.

The European Union remained Macao's second-largest trading partner in goods after Mainland China. This accounted for 29% of the SAR's total trade in the first 10 months of 2021. The bilateral trade is dominated by the European Union – around 32% of Macao's imports originated in the European Union.

The European Union remained, excluding offshore centres, Macao's fourth-largest source of foreign investment in 2020 after Hong Kong, Mainland China and the US. According to Macanese statistics, the European Union accounted for 4.6% of the total foreign direct investment stock in 2020.

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