Xi Jinping spurred by national anyi-corruption drive
Perhaps motivated by a widespread drive against corruption in China, the vast country's president, Xi Jinping, called for tighter controls over gambling as he ended a brief visit to the Macau special region this week.
The Chinese leader called on regional authorities to strengthen supervision and improve the regulation of gambling on the island, which is visited by millions of Chinese gamblers every year.
Macau, where the local government derives more than 85 percent of its revenues from the gambling industry, this week celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of its return to China following colonial rule.
Chinese media said the island now faces the challenge of finding other income streams to diversify its economy, reporting that the Macau's chief executive, Fernando Chui Sai-on, said the government would "undertake a review" of the casino industry in spring.
Media reports last week revealed that China is set to launch a major crackdown on the multibillion-dollar flow of illegal funds through the former colony's casinos, led by the Ministry of Public Security.
The initiative will see the ministry's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau given access to all records of transfers through the UnionPay bank payment system to identify suspicious transactions.
The bureau is leading Operation Fox Hunt, aimed at extraditing corrupt officials who have allegedly fled overseas and funnelled millions of dollars in illicit funds out of China.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that Xi Jinping spoke Saturday about China's resolve to strengthen the "one country, two systems" policy that applies to China's relationships with former Western dominated colonies Macau and Hong Kong, state news agency Xinhua said, quoting the president as saying:
"No matter what difficulties or challenges we may encounter, they could never shake our confidence and resolve to uphold the principle and advance the practice of 'one country, two systems.
"Never in history have we been closer to the goal of the great renewal of the Chinese nation and never in history have we had greater confidence and capability to realise this goal."
Pro-democracy "umbrella" demonstrations in Hong Kong, which ended a week ago after two-and-a-half months, have called into question China's control over the territory, Chinese media have speculated.
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