Macau turns 10

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.

So why isn’t Beijing smiling about Macau’s success? Read all about it in Asia Times.

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.


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3 Responses to “Macau turns 10”

  1. PJMM Says:

    Dear sir,

    I wish you a merry crhistmas.

    Meanwhile let me say some things about your article. When the portuguese gave the Macau Territories to China we wanted to do in a way that portuguese, chinese and Macau people could save their faces.

    What I mean is: Portugal wanted give back Macau in 1975/6 and China refused.

    Later China wanted Macau back as Hong Kong and Taiwan, and Portugal agreed with China and made just some demands to assure some security to Macau people. And some Rigths.

    We portuguese wanted the best to Macau and his people and we believed then that China wanted the same prosperity for Macau. And that came even with some economic problems. China didnt betrayed the deal with portuguese and were happy with that.

    Macau wasnt a normal colony for portuguese. We knew that was a terrority dependent of China. But I wish you to remember that Macau was a gift to portuguese empire and we didnt stole that land, as you sugest in your article. If you study Macau History you will notice that when China gave us Macau we agreed to fight pirates in South Sea and give some security to South China. Macau was a gift to portuguese where we could port our navy to fight pirates or others menaces to China. It wasnt against China wishes that we had Macau territories. It wasnt a normal portuguese colony.

    Macau was allways special for us portuguese. We knew that Macau was chinese in essence and we hold that territories because we had an old agreement with China. Macau was allways an territory that gave us financial losses and problems but we never betrayed the agreement with centurys of existence.

    I hope my words can help you avoid some mistakes. We never fight against China or traded opium against Chinas wishes. We had allways a good relationship with China, no matter politics or circunstances, in fice centurys.

    Best regards,

    PJMM – Portugal

  2. Lan Mao Says:

    Dear Kaifeng:

    Referring to your piece on Macao, why “being fiercely loyal” to Beijing a bad thing? Who would you want them to be “fiercely loyal” to?

    You’ve actually tip-off the buraeaucrats about “half the money” ending up in the States, now they’ll start to follow your advise to squeeze out the YouTaiRen (plural).

    A Macau Citizen

    • Muhammad Cohen Says:

      Lan Mao,
      Thanks for your comments. I didn’t mean to imply that loyalty to Beijing is a bad thing – that passage was well written. My point is simply that blind loyalty to Beijing, in Macau as in Hong Kong, isn’t necessarily in the best interests of China or Macau. In contrast to Tip O’Neill’s famous quote, in Macau, no politics is local. Blind loyalty to Beijing has helped stunt Macau’s civic development so that the government has no mechanisms or networks to deal with local issues, such as education, healthcare, and shifting employment. No question that Macau has done well over the past 10 years, but with an effective local government, it could be doing much better. At least that’s the way I see it.

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