sexta-feira, 17 de abril de 2009

Um passo em falso da Universidade de Macau?

Zhuhai lawmakers criticise plan to move Macau university to city (*)

Fox Yi Hu
South China Morning Post
April 17, 2009

A plan to move Macau's top university to Zhuhai has drawn the ire of officials and lawmakers in the mainland city, highlighting friction between the neighbours.

The University of Macau will find a new home in Zhuhai's Hengqin Island while still operating under Macau laws, according to a plan revealed by university directors this month.

However, officials in Zhuhai frowned on the idea that land would be offered without retaining mainland rules, a Zhuhai government source said.

A Zhuhai lawmaker called it an insult to allow such use of the city's land, while a Zhuhai scholar said the relocation plan showed Macau's lack of respect for its neighbour.

Li Jiankang, a delegate to the Zhuhai People's Congress, said Macau had no right to run its laws and regulations on the city's land. "Co-operation between the two cities should be in a mutually beneficial way," he said, "It should not be based on the sacrifice of one side."

Mr Li, who owns a petroleum company in Zhuhai, said it was wrong for Macau to invoke the central government's power to "browbeat" its neighbour.

Yang Zhenghu, director of the Zhuhai-based South China Economic Research Centre, a think-tank close to the city government, said there was strong opposition among Zhuhai residents to the relocation plan.

"Macau did not consult Zhuhai about the plan. When it was unveiled, even Zhuhai officials knew nothing about it," Dr Yang said.

"This plan, if forced on Zhuhai, would affect future co-operation between the two cities."

The relocation idea surprised residents in both cities when a state official first mentioned it in February.

Du Ying, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the relocation plan would figure in the Pearl River Delta's new development scheme.

It is believed that the plan was proposed by Macau to the central government, although Macau authorities would not confirm it.

On April 6, University of Macau directors gave details of the relocation plan in a Macau legislature meeting.

The Hengqin campus will be built on a site of about 1.4 sq km with a total construction area of 1 million square metres - about 20 times the university's present size.

Daniel Tse Chi-wai, chairman of the university council, told legislators that the institution would still operate under Macau regulations after the move was made.

For instance, students would have free access to online information without having to worry about the mainland's internet censorship, Dr Tse said.

Students may even be able to enter the Hengqin campus from Macau without going through immigration checkpoints, the university directors said.

Hengqin has been earmarked as a key base for economic co-operation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.

Just a few hundred metres from the Cotai Strip, Hengqin is three times the size of Macau but has fewer than 7,000 residents.

Macau's policymakers and developers have long been eyeing Hengqin Island to ease the pressure of population growth. Macau has arguably the world's highest population density, with 557,000 residents sharing 29 sq km.

The university said the relocation plan could solve a land shortage at the existing campus, atop a small hill on Taipa Island, where it said classrooms, offices, laboratories, dormitories and student recreation areas were "very limited".

The university, which has more than 6,000 students, said its area per student was only 8.7 square metres, compared with 960 square metres at Harvard University and the 150 square metres at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Suggestions of Macau-Zhuhai co-operation in Hengqin were first floated more than 10 years ago, but nothing concrete had materialised.

Dr Yang said Macau should respect its neighbour to enable co-operation on a friendly and equal footing.

(*) Os negritos são da minha responsabilidade.

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