12 January 2020
Macau is gearing up for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of the territory’s 20th handover anniversary celebrations. Photo: Reuters
Macau is gearing up for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping as part of the territory’s 20th handover anniversary celebrations. Photo: Reuters

When a big guy visits a small city

Don’t go to Macau this week.

I say this because the atmosphere in the gambling enclave will be anything but relaxing in the next few days as the city prepares for a high-profile trip by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

As Xi comes to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Macau’s return to Chinese rule, one can expect heavy police presence and tightened security checks, as well as potential traffic restrictions.?

From officials’ perspective, it is critical that everything goes smoothly to ensure a good show, as what happened when Xi came to officiate the inauguration of Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai Bridge in October last year.

Who wants the paramount leader to face an embarrassing question such as the seemingly lopsided ‘Phase One” Sino-American trade deal, let alone the six-month unrest in Hong Kong that has attracted global attention?

Last Friday, I went to Macau for a business lunch and almost missed the Shun Tak turbojet.

When buying ferry tickets, I normally opt for a sailing that is less than 10 minutes away in terms of the departure time, but this time I found that the practice was a bit risky.

I had not reckoned with a bag check before entering the ferry.

Luckily the ferry did not start on time either, and I was able to make it.

Meanwhile, I noticed that there were fewer turbo jets available per hour. Apparently, it had something?to do with the extra security laid to the city of 620,000.

We are now receiving news that passengers using the Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai Bridge are also being subject to extra security checks and screening.

According to a Hong Kong media report, people who took a shuttle to Macau were asked to leave the bus at a security checkpoint so that they could be photographed.

The unprecedented action came after officials asked the passengers to show a mainland visa, leaving many passengers flummoxed as Hong Kong people do not need a travel visa to Macau.

Worse, reports say a Hong Kong man has gone missing since Friday after facing security checks by mainland police while using the sea bridge.

The man was said to have been arrested at a checkpoint on an artificial island that serves the sea-crossing link.

His distraught son has requested the Hong Kong police for help, but there is no update yet.

Meanwhile, we’ve had reports that Hong Kong’s security secretary John Lee was briefly in Macau over the weekend, possibly discussing the coordination work for President Xi visit.

I was told that some Macau hotels near where Xi will be staying were told not to receive too many guests during the time the president is in the city, due to security reasons.

All this adds to the case why we should avoid Macau this week.

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EJ Insight writer