City Profile: Macau in the 21st Century

May 21, 2019 | CULTURE, Macau

Macau continues to be a relevant global outpost for trade and economy in the 21st century

Macau is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. Located at the southwestern quadrant of the Pearl River, and is just 40 miles away from Hong Kong. Macau is currently ranked as 34th freest economy in the world, making it a robust and healthy place for business and leisure. Geographically, Macau can be seen as a ‘jutting’ land from the Guangdong Province, and is historically known as the Gateway of the Bay.

The Portuguese in Macau

In the 16th century, Portuguese colonizers set foot on Chinese soil and like the British on Hong Kong, established a colonial trading post there. Jorge Alvares led the first colonizing contingent in 1513, arrived some 80 kilometers from the Pearl River. Undesirable conditions for maritime travel pushed Alvares’ contingent to look for another potential trading post.

In 1557, the Cantonese-speaking fisherfolk and farmers who were living in Macau (then called Ou Mun), allowed the Portuguese to set up temporary shelters there. The Portuguese were required to pay rent and custom duties in exchange for their stay on the land. The Portuguese also promised to help maintain the Gateway of the Bay by fighting pirates that were all too common at sea in the sixteenth century.

Ruins of St. Paul's - Macau

Ruins of St. Paul’s – Macau | Roberto Trombetta

The Portuguese acted as a trading agent for China. They were responsible for bringing Chinese goods to Goa, before trading Goa good for Malaccan spices and sandalwood, and then eventually these goods were brought to Nagasaki, as the Japanese traded silverware, weapons, and other goods.

Japanese goods were then brought back to Macau so that more Chinese goods can be acquired, beginning the global cycle of trade once again. The beginnings of transnational grade began in places like Macau.

In less than fifty years, the Portuguese crown formalized its stronghold on Chinese soil. Macau was named Cidade de Nome de Deus, which meant “City of the Name of God.” By the seventeenth century, Cidade de Nome de Deus had a bustling population, and almost a thousand Portuguese settlers. By the end of the century, there were already 40,000 people here, including colonial slaves from Africa, India, and the Malay Peninsula. Macau became the center of Christianity in Asia, as it became home to converts.

Eroding of the Portuguese Stronghold

Portugal’s rule over Macau was threatened by the actions of the Spaniards and the Dutch. The Dutch actually sent over 1,300 men to Macau to grab it from Portugal’s control. The warship only retreated when a Jesuit priest fired and ignited a gunpowder stack on the Dutch ship, effectively causing the ship to implode. In 1862, Portugal emulated the British and negotiated for the sovereignty of Macau from China. It took several years before the treaty was signed (1887), and China recognized the autonomy of Macau.

Chinese Homecoming

With the advent of the steamship and great leaps in maritime technology, the relevance of Macau as a port for Japan and other territories declined. In the 20th century, it became little more than a place for refugees, especially the Chinese who fled Mao’s communist revolution.

In 1974, Portugal’s newly established left-wing government expressed its desire to cut ties with Macau, as it is a remnant of the old colonial empire. China did not immediately respond to this, but was able to forge the Sino-Portuguese Pact of 1986, which made Macau a SAR or special administrative region of China.

In 1999, 442 years of Portuguese rule of Macau finally ended. Like Hong Kong’s handover, the Portuguese handover of Macau meant that it will retain its economy and enjoys its own freedoms (like Hong Kong). This SAR has a directly-elected Legislative Economy, which continued to function well after the handover ceremony.

Population and Economy

41% of Macau residents are ethnic Chinese, and 46.2% are settlers from the Mainland. 2.6% of the population are Filipinos, while 3.5% are migrants from the adjacent SAR, Hong Kong. The remaining 6.8% of the population is a combination of different ethnicities, including Europeans who have settled and have created families in Macau.

Shopping Center - Macau

Shopping Center – Macau | Pittaya

Right now, the economy is partially dependent on gaming revenue (gambling), but it is already taking steps to diversify its economy and reduce this dependence. In 2017, Macau had collected a record $70 billion in taxes from casinos alone. However, it has invested less than 10% of that in much-needed infrastructure.

Macau remains a free and neutral port, and continues to generate statewide revenue from global trade. Taxation in this SAR is low, and the collection of dues from all sectors is highly efficient, much like Hong Kong. The Macanese pataca, Macau’s own currency, is tied strongly to the Hong Kong dollar, which in turn is strongly associated with the USA’s own greenback.

Current government spending has declined slightly at 90%, but the SAR’s fiscal health remains at an all-time high. Taxation has increased ever so slightly at 77.1%, and business freedom slightly lags at 60%. Trade freedom has mostly been frozen at 90% for some years now, and is closed to investment freedom and financial freedom at 90% and 70%.

Lisboa - Macau

Lisboa – Macau | Gavin Anderson

Meditarrasian Culture

Like other melting pots, Macau’s culture and language are largely hybridized, and we can say that its ‘national’ culture is unique and distinct from Mainland Chinese culture. The hodgepodge of other languages being spoken in this SAR, has led to the creation of a Creole language called Patua.

Patua is a mixture of Malay, Cantonese, Sinhalese, and Portuguese linguistic expressions. The linguistic heterogeneity in Macau is much higher than in neighboring SAR Hong Kong, as it has several major languages and multiple languages from minority populations, too. English has grown widely in recent years, and this has been worrying the champions of the decidedly Mediterrasian traits of Macau language and culture.

The three major religions in Macau are Taoism, Buddhism, and Roman Catholicism, though from a universal standpoint, we can say that Macau is predominantly Buddhist now, compared to its 15th century orientations as a Portuguese city. Roman Catholicism has shrunk greatly in the 21st century and now comprises only 6% of the total population of Macau.

The mixture of major festivals and events in Macau are quite telling of its hybrid culture. For instance, it does celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year and has several associated events after the Lunar New Year, but it also celebrates its own Arts Festival, the Macau Grand Prix, and the Macau International Parade, which encourages participants to showcase their creative talents and be more competitive. The Macau International Parade, specifically, aims to showcase the diversity of cultural industries operating in this SAR, as Macau is populated by multiple ethnicities, not just the ethnic Chinese.

Luna New Year Celebration - Senado Square - Macau

Luna New Year Celebration – Senado Square – Macau | Travel Oriented

Additional festivals to look out for are the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Macau Lotus Festival. Now, remember: each of these events may be rooted in festivals in the Mainland, but Macau always has its own twist, its own was of doing things.

 

What is Thailand’s ‘Section 112’ Royal Defamation Law?

Thailand’s monarchy is protected by one of the world’s toughest defamation laws, making any criticism of the powerful King Maha Vajiralongkorn very risky inside the country.

‘Every Cent, Every Bhat’: Thai Protesters Target Royal Wealth

Thousands of Thai democracy activists rallied in Bangkok Wednesday to demand the king give up control of his multibillion-dollar fortune, turning their protest movement directly on the once-untouchable monarchy’s vast wealth.

Macau Casino Tycoon Stanley Ho Dies Aged 98

Stanley Ho, the Hong Kong-born tycoon who made billions transforming neighboring Macau from a sleepy Portuguese outpost into the world’s biggest gambling hub, died on Tuesday at the age of 98, his family said.

Indonesia Starts Cloud Seeding to Keep Forest Fires at Bay

Indonesia has started cloud seeding to induce rain as the archipelago moves to head off annual forest fires blamed for blanketing swathes of Southeast Asia in toxic haze.

Protection or Fashion? Creative Face Masks Around the Globe

The COVID-19 has caused a shortage of surgical and n-95 masks. Although worldwide health authorities are discouraging the masses to get these masks and reserve them for health workers, it hasn’t stopped fashionable people from making their own.

Malaysian University Using Robot for Graduation Ceremonies to Cut Virus Risk

A Malaysian university is considering using robots dressed in gowns and mortarboards to act as stand-ins at graduation ceremonies to prevent coronavirus infections — but students have blown a fuse at the idea.

Double Standards: New Zealand Eased Virus Border Controls for ‘Avatar’ Film Crew

New Zealand will ease its coronavirus border controls, the government said Friday, after a decision to let Hollywood director James Cameron into the country to film an “Avatar” sequel prompted anger over double standards.

Meet ‘Gamer Grandma’: World’s Oldest Video Game Youtuber

Every day, 90-year-old Japanese grandma Hamako Mori flexes her fingers to keep them nimble. Not for knitting or needlepoint, but to keep them in shape for playing video games.

China: Some Children are Learning to Code Before Even Entering Primary School

Wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses and a red T-shirt, an eight-year-old Chinese boy is logged in for an online coding lesson – as the teacher.

Taiwan’s Horror Game Under Fire for Anti-China Message

The Taiwanese game faced controversy after gamers found a hidden message in the film which insulted Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Death of Netflix Reality Star Sparks Calls for Japan Bullying Laws

The death of a young Japanese reality TV star targeted by online abuse has sparked an outpouring of grief in the country and calls for stronger measures to tackle cyberbullying.

Family Drama ‘A Sun’ Wins Best Picture at Taiwan’s Oscars

Taiwanese family drama “A Sun” won top prizes at the Golden Horse film awards Saturday in a year marked by the conspicuous absence of talent from China amid plummeting ties between Taipei and Beijing.

Stinky Durians Spiked in Online Demand During Pandemic

When a coronavirus lockdown confined Malaysians to their homes, street traders selling durians moved their pungent produce online — and have been enjoying an unexpected spike in demand.

Japan Boosts AI Funding to Match Lonely Hearts

Japan is seeking to boost its flagging birthrate by funding the use of artificial intelligence to help match lonely hearts, an official said Monday.

Top Religions in Asia

How Asia Became the Birthplace of the World’s Culturally Diverse Religions

Kenzo Takada, First Japanese Designer to Conquer Paris Fashion, Dies Aged 81

Japan’s most famous fashion designer Kenzo Takada, founder of the global Kenzo brand, died in the French capital on Sunday aged 81 after contracting coronavirus.

‘Detective Chinatown 3’ Dominates China’s Box Office

Moviegoers in China welcomed the Year of the Ox by watching the third installment of Detective Chinatown. The movie grossed almost $400 million on its debut, topping the record of Avengers: Endgame in 2019.

Thailand’s Fashion Designers to Note

Take a look at Thailand’s thrilling and rich fashion scene and designers

Hong Kong Freezes Media Tycoon Jimmy Lai’s Assets

Hong Kong authorities on Friday announced they had frozen the assets of billionaire pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai, including shares in his media publications, for breaching the city’s national security law.

South Korea to Pay 13.9% More for US Troop Presence

South Korea has agreed to pay 13.9 percent more towards the cost of the US troop presence on the peninsula, its foreign ministry said Wednesday, in a six-year deal resolving an issue that festered under the Trump administration.

After Bollywood Star’s Suicide, a TV ‘Witch Hunt’

India has more than four million coronavirus cases and an explosive border stand-off with China, but the story dominating television news for months is how a Bollywood actress supposedly drove her ex-boyfriend to suicide with pot and black magic.

Black Hair as a Symbol of Unity and Resistance

Why do older Chinese politicians sport jet black hair?

Cryptocurrencies in Asia: Singapore & China

Cryptocurrencies are finding a comfortable forever home in Singapore and China

US Olympic Athletes Detail Anti-Asian Racism

Asian-American athletes hoping to represent the United States at this year’s Olympics shared personal stories of racist abuse on Wednesday, vowing to use their platforms to raise awareness in the fight against discrimination.

Singapore’s ‘Fake News’ Law Takes Effect as Critics Sound Alarm

Singapore’s new law to combat “fake news” came into effect Wednesday despite criticism from tech giants and activists, who labelled the tough rules a “chilling” attempt to stifle dissent.

Hong Kong Scientists Say Anti-Microbe Drug Successful against Coronavirus

An affordable anti-microbial drug used to treat stomach ulcers and bacterial infections has shown promise in combatting the coronavirus in animals, scientists in Hong Kong announced Monday.

Memes, Slang, and Involution: The Story of China’s Most Notorious Bike Thief

The Story of Qie Guevara: When an average convict gets released from prison, they would normally expect a challenging phase of reintegration into society and search for employment. But for one low-key bike thief, the day of his prison-release saw crowds of talent-agency recruiters waiting at the gates.

A Cure for Hangover? South Korea Has Some

From tea to morning recovery elixirs – does South Korea really have tonics to end dreaded hangovers?

Top-Ranked Tai Wins Crucial Game Against Thai Star Ratchanok

Top-ranked Tai Tzu-ying won a crucial game Friday against former world champion Ratchanok Intanon, ensuring the Taiwanese star a place in the semi-finals of badminton’s World Tour Finals in Bangkok.

Thai Navy SEAL Dies From Infection Contracted During Cave Rescue

A Thai Navy SEAL who aided with the rescue of a youth football team trapped in a flooded cave last year has died from an infection he contracted during the dramatic recovery mission.

Nicknamed ‘The Thing’: Massive Prehistoric Egg Mystery Case Cracked

Scientists had nicknamed it “The Thing” — a mysterious football-sized fossil discovered in Antarctica that sat in a Chilean museum awaiting someone who could work out just what it was.

Virus Misinformation Fuels Hatred against India’s Muslims

Gayur Hassan’s Hindu neighbors came at night, throwing stones at his family’s home in a northern Indian village and setting his workshop on fire. All because his son “liked” a social media post.

Shame Game: Japan Names Pachinko Parlors Bucking Closure Call

Japanese governors are turning to an old-fashioned weapon in a bid to get the country’s pachinko gambling parlors to close during the coronavirus pandemic: naming and shaming.

Kpop Stars Involved in Sex Video Controversy

Seungri and Jung Joon-young’s scandals shine a light on the rising cases of victim blaming and women abuse in South Korea.

Young & Working: Top Billionaires in India to Learn from

The majority of the billionaires in the world are self-made. These people are proof that it is not impossible to achieve a dream. Take a look at some of the Indian self-made billionaires that have cemented their empire.

Amitabh Bachchan to be the First Indian Celebrity to Lend His Voice to Amazon’s Alexa Assistant

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan will be the first Indian celebrity to lend his voice to Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant starting next year, as the Silicon Valley giant expands its presence in the massive market.

Singapore Virus-Secure Hotel Looks to Lure Business Travelers

Singapore on Thursday launched what it billed as a coronavirus-secure hotel and meeting complex where visitors communicate via intercom through glass panels, as the Asian financial hub slowly opens up to the world for business.

Takashi Murakami: A Visionary for the Senses

Take a look into the life of one of the world’s most adored Japanese artists

Trash Talk: Asia is Not Your Dumping Ground

Developed countries send their waste to Asian countries with little to no warning

Thousands Defy Mask Ban at Hong Kong Halloween Showdown

Hong Kong democracy activists donned Halloween masks lampooning the city’s pro-Beijing leaders on Thursday, defying an emergency law that bans face coverings and sparking renewed clashes with police.

Ape Escape: Indonesian Orangutans Airlifted Back to the Wild

Ten orangutans have been airlifted back to their natural habitat on Indonesia’s Borneo island, in the first release of the apes into the wild for a year due to the dangers of coronavirus infection.

The Essex Tragedy and the Migrant Gamble

Not even the risk of death could deter Asia’s migrants from seeking a better life abroad. The British police continue to investigate the 39 illegal Migrants deaths associated with the refrigerated truck tragedy that occurred in Grays, Essex, in southeast England.

This Season’s Must-Have: Medical Gear Modelled on Chinese Runway

This season’s must-have is not a flashy designer handbag but breathable, disposable protective medical gear — as seen on models striding along a catwalk in northeastern China.

Locked Up, Back Up: The Thai Dissidents Who Refuse to Give In

Jailed seven years for publishing satire of a fictitious royal family, activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is in awe today as university students spearhead a growing movement demanding reforms to Thailand’s ultra-powerful monarchy.

Chinese Man Causes Outage after Sit-ups atop Power Pole

A man in China scaled a utility pole to do sit-ups off the top of it, stunning onlookers and causing a power cut to thousands of homes, media said Tuesday.

Taiwan Expels Chinese Tourist for Damaging ‘Lennon Wall’

Taiwan has expelled a Chinese tourist for damaging a “Lennon Wall” that was put up in support of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, a move likely to irk Beijing.

China to End All Waste Imports on Jan 1

China will ban all waste imports from January 1, 2021, state media reported Friday, marking the culmination of a three-year phase-out of accepting overseas junk.

Wall of Sand Engulfs Chinese Town

A towering wall of sand rushed over factories and apartment blocks in northwestern China’s Gansu province as seasonal sandstorms barrelled across the country, causing air pollution and traffic accidents.

From Manhattan to Hiroshima: the Race for the Atom Bomb

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki capped six years of top-secret work by scientists from Europe and North America. Here is an overview of how that process unfolded.

Hermès Continues Double-Digit Growth in China but Drop in Hong Kong

French luxury goods maker Hermes said Thursday that its sales accelerated in the third quarter thanks in particular to China despite the unrest in Hong Kong.