This weekend marks the tenth anniversary of Macau’s switch from Portuguese colony to Special Administrative Region of China. Over the past decade, Macau has been successful beyond anyone’s expectations. In 1999, with criminal gangs shooting it out in the streets, this city of 550,000, measuring just 29.2 square kilometers (11.3 miles), with virtually no resources, three official languages that don’t include English, and a centuries-long legacy of misrule looked set to remain a backwater with a colorful past and grim future. Ten years later, Macau has attracted billions of dollars in investment en route to becoming the world’s leading gambling destination, boasting the world’s fourth highest per capita GDP.
Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.