China’s decision to be more involved in business dealings in Macau has taken another step with the appointment of Li Gang (an appropriate name if there ever was one) who is expected to take control of China’s liaison office and be the country’s main representative in Macau later this year as soon as the current chief hangs up his gloves.
The decision by the Chinese government to tap a man with a “tough cop” reputation and has handled contentious issues in Hong Kong isn’t the least bit surprising especially after the government has reaffirmed its commitment of tackling corruption in Macau, which has been put into the an unwanted light over allegations that some of officials are laundering state-owned money and using them on casino tables.
The move, despite being regarded as low-key, will have some significant repercussions, particularly in the way China is trying to be more proactive in protecting state assets that are being wasted on the gambling tables when they’re supposed to be used for business or state improvements.
China has also revamped its anti-money laundering laws, particularly in Macau where steps are being taken to set more explicit requirements to detect suspicious transactions with a stricter oversight being placed in the gaming industry. With Li, who is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, on board, the expectations are for him to tackle graft and the illicit outflow of funds in Macau.
“China’s government is always focusing and concentrating on Macau’s development,” a representative of the liaison office told Reuters.
It’s also worth noting that improvements are being put in place among casino operators to detect if there are any government officials or even high-ranking politicians that are gambling in their premises. Deborah Ng, director of Macau’s Financial Intelligence Office, said, “I think there’s improvement. I can’t say what we have done now will totally prevent the risk, but actually we can see that things are improving”.
And with Li Gang ready to step into his new role as the head of China’s liaison office in Macau, the expectation is that he can put his stamp in cutting down corruption among the country’s own officials. With an impressive track record that suggests he knows what he’s doing, expect Li to be all business all day, all the time.