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Macao's land reclamation projects to improve living conditions
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Macao's land reclamation projects proposed by the Special Administrative Region (SAR) government will ease the pressure of land shortage on the island city and enhance living condition, said local lawmakers on Sunday.

A report by The Macao Daily News said that the SAR government has recently submitted five land reclamation projects, the total area of which amounted to five square kilometers, to the central government for examination and approval.

Macao's population density got higher in recent years, and urban space is very limited, therefore the reclamation projects will help "enhance the quality of living environment for the local people", said Leong Heng Teng, a member of the SAR's Legislative Assembly.

Due to previous reclamation along the coastline, Macao's total land area has grown from 11.6 square kilometers in 1912, when measurements were first taken, to 28.6 square kilometers, while its population has risen to 530,000, according to the latest official statistics.

"Given that the shortage of land was one of the main factors that drove up local property prices, the increase of land resources will balance the present land and property price hikes," said local lawmaker Lau Pun Lap.

But he also pointed out that the SAR government need to work out a more detailed law of land approving, enhancing the transparency of the procedure, so that more people can benefit from the future land development.

Meanwhile, Chan Chak Seng, vice president of the SAR government 's Cultural institute, also said that the reclamation projects will help protect Macao's World Heritage sites, many of which locate in the densely populated old city district.

With the construction of more residential buildings on the newly reclaimed areas, the population density of the old city district can be lowered, which will help create a better environment for the protection of those cultural heritage sites, Chan said.

Ever since 2002, when China's central government issued new regulations on the nation's seas, only one reclamation project submitted by the SAR government, the Zhuhai-Macao cross border industrial area, has been approved by the central government.

The neighboring Guangdong province of southern China has also planned to reclaim 146 square kilometers of land from the sea, according to a newly released provincial government document.

Under the United Nations maritime treaty, China governs about 3 million square kilometers of sea area.

(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2008)

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