BEIJING -- China's top legislature adopted Saturday a bill to give the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) jurisdiction over 1.09 square kilometers of land on an island in the southern province of Guangdong for about 40 years.
Under the bill, the mainland will offer part of Hengqin Island to Macao under a lease as the new site for the University of Macao.
The university, a prestigious public school with nearly 6,600 students, now occupies about 0.05 square km in Macao.
The land on the island is now under the jurisdiction of Guangdong's Zhuhai City, which is separated from Macao by the Pearl River Estuary.
Under mainland law, a lease for the purpose of education expires after 50 years. 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 (cabinet), Zhou Bo, vice director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, explained to the lawmakers Monday.
"Macao is too limited to offer land for the university's expansion," he said, adding the move aims to "further support Macao to develop education and cultivate talent to promote a sound and fast development of the SAR."
The lease arrangement 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.
The State Council (cabinet) approved a development plan for Hengqin Island at an executive meeting Wednesday presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.
The plan said the Zhuhai special economic zone would include the island,so as to further develop the area's service, tourism, education and high-tech industries.
More industry opening policies would be implemented in Hengqin so as to forge a new mode of cooperation among Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong, under the "One-country, two systems" policy, it said.
The ninth session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress, the top legislature, closed its latest six-day, bi-monthly session Saturday.