Sunday, April 23, 2006

The BVI strengthens ties with Macao (Macau)

The BVI strengthens its ties with Macao – a region near another small offshore jurisdiction under China People republics control – Hong Kong.

The BVI granted visa-free access to the passport holders of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR). The diplomatic agencies informed the MSAR about ther granting on Thursday. Of course, BVI was not the only country - 72 countries and territories have granted Macao passport holders visa-free access or visa-on-arrival status previously.

Macau is commonly known as the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It is situated on the southern coast of China. Macau was the oldest European colony in China and it was administered by Portugal until 1999. Then, in 1999, the administrative power over Macau was transferred to the People's Republic of China. Now, together with Hong Kong, it is 1 of 2 Special Administrative Regions of the PRC.

Its historical colonial relics are great, still Macau's biggest attraction is its gambling industry and casinos. Many forms of gambling are legal here. The most popular game is Pai Gow, which is played with Chinese dominoes. It is typical of gamblers from Hong Kong to take one-day excursions to Macau.

In 2004 the Sands Casino opened - and gambling revenues from Macau's casinos for the first time exceeded those of Las Vegas (about $5 billion). So, Macau became one of world's highest-volume gambling centres in the world. Many casinos are going to be opened through 2008 - the Wynn Macau Casino in 2006, the Venetian Macau in 2007, the Crown Macau, Galaxy, and others.

To make the long story short, the small economy is growing rapidly due to gambling-related tourism from mainland China and construction from the new casinos.

As to the legal system of Macau, it is based largely on Portuguese law. This is the legacy of the law – the same as the British Virgin Islands, the law of which is based on United Kingdom law. The Macau territory has its own independent judicial system. It is headed by the Court of Final Appeal (CFA), which makes final judgments on court cases.

The chief executive of Macau is appointed by the People's Republic of China's central government by an election committee. The members of this committee are nominated by corporate and community bodies. The first China-appointed chief executive of the Macau SAR is Edmund Ho Hau Wah - a community leader and former banker.

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