DEFENSE AND INTERNAL SECURITY
Colonial Administration: Portugal withdrew its armed forces in 1975, leaving a police force of 5,800 under the direct control
of the governor. Security was the responsibility of a civilian undersecretary for public security. The police were organized into
enforcement, investigation, customs, and marine branches.
People's Liberation Army: Since December 20, 1999, the defense of Macau has been the responsibility of the Chinese
People's Liberation Army (PLA), which stations up to 1,000 troops in the Macau Special Administrative Region. The garrison has its
logistics base, medical care, and food supply in the Zhuhai Special Economic Zone, across the border from Macau. According to the
Law on Stationing Troops in the Macau Special Administrative Region (or Macau Garrison Law, passed by the NPC Standing
Committee on June 28, 1999), the mission of the PLA in Macau is to defend the special administrative region by "preventing and
resisting aggression; safe-guarding the security [of Macau]; undertaking defence services; managing military facilities; and handling
related foreign military affairs." The PLA can also be called upon by the chief executive to help maintain public order and assist with
disaster relief efforts. The members of the garrison are mainly ground force troops.
A PLA armored personnel carrier enters Macau, December 20, 1999.
Courtesy Catherina Pang,
Hong Kong Collection, Library of Congress
The Macau Garrison is under the command and control of the Central Military
Commission, and its budget is administered by the central government in Beijing. A
major general heads the Macau Garrison.
Police: On December 20, 1999, the various police force branches, with the exception of the customs police, who were reassigned to
the Financial Service Department, were merged into a single force--the Macau Security Force--under the supervision of the secretary
of security. At the time of the return of Macau to China's sovereignty, plans were in place to modernize the police force with the goal
of better positioning the force to combat organized crime and to stop illegal immigration.
Organized Crime: Increasing crime in the 1990s was attributed to organized crime organizations (triads). One major
organization, the 14K Triad, was reported in the mid-1990s to have had a complex and secretive financial and communications network
and some 10,000 members. The gambling industry is the major focus of organized crime in Macau. When the 14K Triad's attempt to
ally with other triads failed in 1996, gangland violence broke out. With the integration of Macau into China, greater attention has been
paid to internal security matters, and the Guangdong Province Public Security Bureau and Macau Security Force began cooperating in
a crackdown on organized crime. Within Macau, an organized crime team, comprising personnel from the Security Department and the
Justice Department, work on the crackdown on and prosecution of major crime cases. Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah has
declared his commitment to "exhaust all possible legal means to smash criminal gangs."
Data as of August 7, 2000