BEIJING: China's top legislature deliberated a draft bill Monday that would give the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) jurisdiction over 1.1 square kilometers of land on an island of the southern province of Guangdong for about 40 years.
The bill, submitted to the ninth session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) for deliberation, proposed to ratify a draft bill offering jurisdiction of a part of Hengqin Island to Macao via leasing as the new site for the University of Macao.
The university, a prestigious public school with nearly 6,600 students, now occupies about 0.054 square km in Macao.
The land in question is now under the jurisdiction of Guangdong's Zhuhai City, which is separated from Macao by the Pearl River Estuary.
"Macao is too limited to offer land for the university's expansion," Zhou Bo, vice director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, explained to the lawmakers.
He said the university's teaching facilities were too crowded for the school to develop. The State Council, or Cabinet, has approved the draft.
The move aims to "further support Macao to develop education and cultivate talent to promote a sound and fast development of the SAR," Zhou said
Under mainland law, a lease for the purpose of education expires after 50 years. Zhou said the university's jurisdiction over the new site would expire on December 19, 2049, but could be longer or shorter with the consent of the State Council.
If the bill is ratified by the NPC Standing Committee, the new campus would be under the administration of the Macao SAR, accessible only from the Macao side through a special passage linking Macao and the island.
People would not be allowed to visit other parts of Hengqin Island from the new campus directly either, according to the draft.
The proposal has a precedent. The Hong Kong SAR acquired the right to use the land at the Hong Kong Port Area within the Shenzhen Bay Port by way of lease in 2006.