Macao, Las Vegas of the East

Friday, 18 December 2020 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage
Reading Time:  13 minutes

Marina at Macau Fisherman's Wharf © Mfwmarketing/cc-by-sa-4.0

Marina at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf © Mfwmarketing/cc-by-sa-4.0

Macau, also spelled Macao and officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is a city and special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China in the western Pearl River Delta by the South China Sea. With a population of about 650,000 and an area of 32.9 km² (12.7 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world. Macau is a former colony of the Portuguese Empire, after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post in 1557. Portugal paid an annual rent and administered the territory under Chinese sovereignty until 1887, when it gained perpetual colonial rights in the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Peking. The colony remained under Portuguese rule until 1999, when it was transferred to China. Macau is a special administrative region of China, which maintains separate governing and economic systems from those of mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems“. Originally a sparsely populated collection of coastal islands, the territory has become a major resort city and a top destination for gambling tourism, with a gambling industry seven times larger than that of Las Vegas. The territory is highly urbanised and most development is built on reclaimed land; two-thirds of the total land area is reclaimed from the sea.

During the Second World War, the Empire of Japan did not occupy the colony and generally respected Portuguese neutrality in Macau. However, after Japanese troops captured a British cargo ship in Macau waters in 1943, Japan installed a group of government “advisors” as an alternative to military occupation. The territory largely avoided military action during the war except in 1945, when the United States ordered air raids on Macau after learning that the colonial government was preparing to sell aviation fuel to Japan. Portugal was later given over US$20 million in compensation for the damage in 1950. Refugees from mainland China swelled the population as they fled from the Chinese Civil War. Access to a large workforce enabled Macau’s economy to grow as the colony expanded its clothing and textiles manufacturing industry, developed tourism, and legalised casino gaming. However, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, residents dissatisfied with the colonial administration rioted in the 1966 12-3 incident, in which 8 people were killed and over 200 were injured. Portugal lost full control over the colony afterwards, and agreed to cooperate with the communist authorities in exchange for continued administration of Macau. Following the 1974 Carnation Revolution, Portugal formally relinquished Macau as an overseas province and acknowledged it as a “Chinese territory under Portuguese administration”. After China first concluded arrangements on Hong Kong’s future with the United Kingdom, it entered negotiations with Portugal over Macau in 1986. They were concluded with the signing of the 1987 Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau, in which Portugal agreed to transfer the colony in 1999 and China would guarantee Macau’s political and economic systems for 50 years after the transfer. In the waning years of colonial rule, Macau rapidly urbanised and constructed large-scale infrastructure projects, including Macau International Airport and a new container port. Macau was transferred to China on 20 December 1999, after 442 years of Portuguese rule. Following the transfer, Macau liberalised its casino industry (previously operating under a government-licensed monopoly) to allow foreign investors, starting a new period of economic development. The regional economy grew by a double-digit annual growth rate from 2002 to 2014, making Macau one of the richest economies in the world on a per capita basis. Political debates have centred on the region’s jurisdictional independence and the central government’s adherence of “one country, two systems” (with regard to Hong Kong, this fundamental right and principle was evidently abolished under the dictatorship of Xi Jinping). Issues such as national security legislation remain controversial.

The regional economy is heavily reliant on casino gaming. The vast majority of government funding (79.6 per cent of total tax revenue) comes from gaming. Gambling as a share of GDP peaked in 2013 at over 60 per cent, and continues to account for 49.1 per cent of total economic output. The vast majority of casino patrons are tourists from mainland China, making up 68 per cent of all visitors. Casino gaming is illegal in both the mainland and Hong Kong, giving Macau a legal monopoly on the industry in China. Revenue from Chinese high rollers has been falling and was forecast to fall as much as 10% more in 2019. Economic uncertainty may account for some of the drop, but alternate Asian gambling venues do as well. For example, Chinese visitors to the Philippines more than doubled between 2015 and 2018, since the City of Dreams casino opened in Manila. Casino gambling was legalised in 1962 and the gaming industry initially operated under a government-licensed monopoly granted to the Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau. This license was renegotiated and renewed several times before ending in 2002 after 40 years. The government then allowed open bidding for casino licenses to attract foreign investors. Along with an easing of travel restrictions on mainland Chinese visitors, this triggered a period of rapid economic growth; from 1999 to 2016, Macau’s gross domestic product multiplied by 7 and the unemployment rate dropped from 6.3 to 1.9 per cent. The Sands Macao, Wynn Macau, MGM Macau, and Venetian Macau were all opened during the first decade after liberalisation of casino concessions. Casinos employ about 24 per cent of the total workforce in the region. “Increased competition from casinos popping up across Asia to lure away Chinese high rollers and tourists” in Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, the Philippines, Australia, Vietnam and the Russian Far East led in 2019 to the lowest revenues in three years. Export-oriented manufacturing previously contributed to a much larger share of economic output, peaking at 36.9 per cent of GDP in 1985 and falling to less than 1 per cent in 2017. The bulk of these exports were cotton textiles and apparel, but also included toys and electronics. At the transfer of sovereignty in 1999, manufacturing, financial services, construction and real estate, and gaming were the four largest sectors of the economy. Macau’s shift to an economic model entirely dependent on gaming caused concern over its overexposure to a single sector, prompting the regional government to attempt re-diversifying its economy. The government traditionally had a non-interventionist role in the economy and taxes corporations at very low rates. Post-handover administrations have generally been more involved in enhancing social welfare to counter the cyclical nature of the gaming industry. Economic growth has been attributed in large part to the high number of mainlander visits to Macau, and the central government exercises a role in guiding casino business growth through its control of the flow of tourists. The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement formalised a policy of free trade between Macau and mainland China, with each jurisdiction pledging to remove remaining obstacles to trade and cross-boundary investment. Due to a lack of available land for farming, agriculture is not significant in the economy. Food is exclusively imported to Macau and almost all foreign goods are transshipped through Hong Kong.

Casino skyline © Mike/cc-by-3.0 Galaxy Macau © Abasaa Marina at Macau Fisherman's Wharf © Mfwmarketing/cc-by-sa-4.0 © panoramio.com - gdczjkk/cc-by-3.0 Ruins of Saint Paul's © Lunaloop/cc-by-sa-4.0 Senado Square © panoramio.com - AwOiSoAk KaOsIoWa/cc-by-sa-3.0 Macau Government Headquarters © Abasaa
<
>
Senado Square © panoramio.com - AwOiSoAk KaOsIoWa/cc-by-sa-3.0
The mixing of the Chinese and Portuguese cultures and religious traditions for more than four centuries has left Macau with an inimitable collection of holidays, festivals and events. The biggest event of the year is the Macau Grand Prix in November, when the main streets in Macau Peninsula are converted to a racetrack bearing similarities with the Monaco Grand Prix. Other annual events include Macau Arts festival in March, the International Fireworks Display Contest in September, the International Music festival in October and/or November, and the Macau International Marathon in December. The Lunar Chinese New Year is the most important traditional festival and celebration normally takes place in late January or early February. The Pou Tai Un Temple in Taipa is the place for the Feast of Tou Tei, the Earth god, in February. The Procession of the Passion of Our Lord is a well-known Roman Catholic rite and journey, which travels from Saint Austin’s Church to the cathedral, also taking place in February. A-Ma Temple, which honours the Goddess Matsu, is in full swing in April with many worshippers celebrating the A-Ma festival. In May it is common to see dancing dragons at the Feast of the Drunken Dragon and twinkling-clean Buddhas at the Feast of the Bathing of Lord Buddha. In Coloane Village, the Taoist god Tam Kong is also honoured on the same day. Dragon Boat Festival is brought into play on Nam Van Lake in June and Hungry Ghosts’ festival, in late August and/or early September every year. All events and festivities of the year end with Winter Solstice in December. Macau preserves many historical properties in the urban area. The Historic Centre of Macau, which includes some twenty-five historic locations, was officially listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 15 July 2005 during the 29th session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Durban, South Africa. However, the Macao government is criticized for ignoring the conservation of heritage in urban planning. In 2007, local residents of Macao wrote a letter to UNESCO complaining about construction projects around world heritage Guia Lighthouse (Focal height 108 meters), including the headquarter of the Liaison Office (91 meters). UNESCO then issued a warning to the Macau government, which led former Chief Executive Edmund Ho to sign a notice regulating height restrictions on buildings around the site. In 2015, the New Macau Association submitted a report to UNESCO claiming that the government had failed to protect Macao’s cultural heritage against threats by urban development projects. One of the main examples of the report is that the headquarter of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, which is located on the Guia foothill and obstructs the view of the Guia Fortress (one of the world heritages symbols of Macao). One year later, Roni Amelan, a spokesman from UNESCO Press service, said that the UNESCO has asked China for information and is still waiting for a reply. In 2016, the Macau government approved an 81-meter construction limit for the residential project, which reportedly goes against the city’s regulations on the height of buildings around world heritage site Guia Lighthouse.

Food in Macau is mainly based on both Cantonese and Portuguese cuisine, drawing influences from Indian and Malay dishes as well, reflecting a unique cultural and culinary blend after centuries of colonial rule. Portuguese recipes were adapted to use local ingredients, such as fresh seafood, turmeric, coconut milk, and adzuki beans. These adaptations produced Macanese variations of traditional Portuguese dishes including caldo verde, minchee, and cozido à portuguesa. While many restaurants claim to serve traditional Portuguese or Macanese dishes, most serve a mix of Cantonese-Portuguese fusion cuisine. Galinha à portuguesa is an example of a Chinese dish that draws from Macanese influences, but is not part of Macanese cuisine. Cha chaan teng, a type of fast casual diner originating in Hong Kong that serves that region’s interpretation of Western food, are also prevalent in Macau. Pastel de nata, pork chop buns, and almond biscuits are popular street food items.

Read more on Macao, Macao Tourism, Macanese cuisine, Wikivoyage Macao and Wikipedia Macao (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Portrait: The novelist and short-story writer Franz Kafka

Portrait: The novelist and short-story writer Franz Kafka

[caption id="attachment_203519" align="aligncenter" width="442"] Franz Kafka in 1923 © Archiv Frans Wagenbach[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic, typically features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers, and has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienat...

[ read more ]

Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi

Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi

[caption id="attachment_185993" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © reem-island.ae[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Reem Island is a natural island 600 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi island. Sorouh Real Estate, Reem Investments, and Tamouh are independently developing parts of the island with projects like Shams Abu Dhabi. Reem Developers define the overall dimensions of the project as 6.5 million square metres and investment costs as exceeding $30 billion. The project has gained international interest as one of the first free zones...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Montenegro - Tivat

Theme Week Montenegro - Tivat

[caption id="attachment_150267" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Donja Lastva © Brian Dell[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Tivat is a coastal town in southwest Montenegro, located in the Bay of Kotor. Tivat is the centre of Tivat Municipality, which is the smallest municipality by area in Montenegro. The town has a population of 10,000, the municipality has 14,000 inhabitants. Already a popular tourist resort, Tivat is set to become a nautical tourism centre for the southern Adriatic. Tivat Airport is 3 km (1.9 mi) away. This is the ...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Castile-La Mancha - Talavera de la Reina

Theme Week Castile-La Mancha - Talavera de la Reina

[caption id="attachment_153330" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Crest of Talavera de la Reina in typical tiles pottery © Javiergil73/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Talavera de la Reina is a city and municipality in the western part of the province of Toledo. It is the second-largest nucleus of population in Castile–La Mancha and the largest in the province: its population of 89,000 makes it larger than the city of Toledo, although the latter remains the provincial capital. The city is settled along the river ...

[ read more ]

The Queen Elizabeth 2

The Queen Elizabeth 2

[caption id="attachment_151244" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Port of Hamburg © Seebeer[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to simply as the QE2, is an ocean liner that was operated by Cunard from 1969 to 2008. Following her retirement from cruising, she is now owned by Istithmar (the investment company of Dubai World). She was designed primarily to run a transatlantic service from her home port of Southampton, England, to New York, USA, and was named after the earlier Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth...

[ read more ]

San Fernando Valley in California

San Fernando Valley in California

[caption id="attachment_219168" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Mission San Fernando Rey de España © Geographer/cc-by-2.5[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The San Fernando Valley, known locally as The Valley, is an urbanized valley in Los Angeles County, California. Located just north of the Los Angeles Basin, the valley incorporates part of the City of Los Angeles, as well as the incorporated cities of Burbank and San Fernando. The valley is well known for its iconic film studios such as Warner Bros. Studio and Walt Disney Studios....

[ read more ]

Theme Week County Galway - Loughrea

Theme Week County Galway - Loughrea

[caption id="attachment_226508" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © panoramio.com - Ahmet Colakoglu/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Loughrea (Irish: Baile Locha Riach, meaning 'town of the grey/speckled lake') is a town in County Galway, Ireland. The town lies to the north of a range of wooded hills, the Slieve Aughty Mountains, and the lake from which it takes its name. The town's cathedral, St Brendan's, dominates the town's skyline. The town has increased in population in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Althoug...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Los Angeles - Griffith Park

Theme Week Los Angeles - Griffith Park

[caption id="attachment_165040" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Griffith Observatory © Matthew Field/cc-by-2.5[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Griffith Park is a large municipal park at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. The park covers 4,310 acres (1,740 ha) of land, making it one of the largest urban parks in North America. It is the second-largest city park in California, after Mission Trails Preserve in San Diego, and the 11th largest municipally owned park in the United ...

[ read more ]

The sail training ship Irving Johnson

The sail training ship Irving Johnson

[caption id="attachment_183077" align="aligncenter" width="590"] 2010 Festival of Sail © flickr.com - Port of San Diego/cc-by-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The twin brigantines Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson are the flagships of the Los Angeles Maritime Institute's (LAMI) TopSail Youth Program, a non-profit organization that helps at-risk youth learn discipline and teamwork through sailing. They join LAMI's topsail schooners the Swift of Ipswich and the Bill of Rights. The boats are named for sail training pioneers Irving and E...

[ read more ]

Portrait: Warburg family

Portrait: Warburg family

[caption id="attachment_165740" align="aligncenter" width="590"] M.M. Warburg & CO headquarters in Hamburg © Claus-Joachim Dickow/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Warburg family is a prominent American banking family of German Jewish descent, noted for their varied accomplishments in biochemistry, botany, political activism, economics, investment banking, law, physics, classical music, art history, pharmacology, physiology, finance, private equity and philanthropy. They originated as the Venetian Jewish del Banco fami...

[ read more ]

Return to TopReturn to Top
© flickr.com - Myke Bryan/cc-by-2.0
Trapani in Sicily

Trapani is a city and comune on the west coast of Sicily in Italy. It is the capital of the...

Sunset © SaiP/cc-by-sa-4.0
Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina

Kill Devil Hills is a town in Dare County, North Carolina. The population was 6,683 at the 2010 census, up...

Christmas 2017 © Dan Curran/cc-by-sa-4.0
English Market in Cork

The English Market (Irish: An Margadh Sasanach) is a municipal food market in the center of Cork City, Ireland. It...

Schließen