Enhanced security, threats and arrests before Chinese President arrives

 President Xi Jinping

President Xi Jinping

  |  NICOLAS ASFOURI /EPA

Xi Jinping's visit on the 20th anniversary of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR), whose program is still unknown, has lead to reinforced security in the territory.

The visit takes place in the aftermath of a week marked by arrests and reports of threats to journalists.

A few days before the celebrations in the territory little or nothing is known about the official program, but there are growing reports of additional security measures from border authorities that have forced to reduce links to and from Hong Kong, police inspections, but also threats to reporters denounced by the Macau Association of Journalists (AJM), all before the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The association said "many local journalists were threatened by unidentified people," who warned them about how to express themselves and how to act, just days away from the ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Macao administration's move from Portugal to China. 650 media professionals are registered to this celebration. Local authorities declared, on Saturday, that the primacy of coverage will be given to reporters from mainland China.

The same association condemned any intimidation or oppression to press freedom and appealed the Central Government and the MSAR to fulfill their commitments under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.

In a city whose decorations of public spaces already mark Christmas festivities, but not the 20th anniversary of the MSAR, Xi Jinping's visit, only officially announced on Saturday, has prompted additional security measures, with inspections in the casinos area, but above all on the frontiers. More x-ray machines are now available upon leaving Hong Kong and on the arrival in Macau.

In fact, since Tuesday, China's mainland authorities have more security checkpoints on an artificial island of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge to inspect all those who come from the Chinese city of Zhuhai to Macau or that arrive from Hong Kong. Hong Kong's pro-democracy field has organized protests against Beijing, these protests have been occurring for half an year.

It was at one of these checkpoints that a Hong Kong resident "disappeared," a case reported by his son to the media in the neighboring special administrative region.

The last contact he had with his father was by telephone, when he told him that he had been detained by the authorities of mainland China. Macao has no record of the man's entry and the Hong Kong authorities are treating the matter as a disappearance, the son added.

Macao marks the 20th anniversary of RAEM on Friday and the inauguration of the new government led by the former president of the Legislative Assembly, Ho Iat Seng. Highlight goes to the presence of the Chinese president.

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