In search of a better world:

a social history of the Macaenses in China

Candidate: B. H. M. Koo
Degree: MA Honours
Year of Submission: 2000
University of Western Sydney
© Barney Koo, Sydney Australia


Title page

Content page



Abbreviations used

1      Introduction

The MacaensesSurvival techniques and skillsThe contributions of the communitiesLiterature ReviewAims and scope of the ThesisApproaches to the topicResearch methodDefinitions and terminologyInappropriate Labels: Portuguese, MacaneseCommunityDiaspora

2      In the wake of the early pioneers

The early pioneersThe officialsConvicts and other deporteesThe settlersThe solteiro merchantsThe womenPriests and missionariesThe Jesuits' contribution to cultural understandingEthnic origins of the MacaensesThe ethnicity debateShortcomings of the debate

3      Uncharted seas and inhospitable lands

Inhospitable landsNingboMacauPart of the vast Portuguese presence in AsiaMacau's "golden century"(1550's to 1640's)Rise and demise of the Japan tradeCentury of belt-tightening and decline (1650's to 1750's)Decline of the Portuguese empireArrival of the British, 1635Century of rejuvenation (1750's to 1842)The Canton factory systemConsequences for Macau and the MacaensesThe Opium War 1839-1842 (impact on Macau)

4     Macaense communities in China – Macau, Shanghai, Shantou, Shameen – from the Opium War to the Cold War (1842 - 1952)

Treaty aftermath – a survey of the early decadesCantonMacauShanghai Macaense communities in ChinaMacauShantouShameenThe Macaenses in Shanghai Crimes and MisdemeanoursDefending Shanghai (Portuguese Company SVC)A Macaense's life in Shanghai 1920-1951Macaenses in Shanghai - post 1949

5      Hong Kong Macaenses – from the Opium War to the Cold War (1842 - 1952)

Hong Kong Macaenses – British– and bestRecognition and Imperial awardsCareer mobilityLand and housing schemesActive in commerceMacaense institutions in Hong KongPortuguese newspapers in Hong KongClub LusitanoClub de Recreio and sportsAssociação Portuguesa de Socorros MutuosCivil defence volunteersComparisons between the various places

6      The decade of war: retreat and integration of the Macaense communities

Retreat and integration of the Macaense communities1937 – Macaense refugees from ShanghaiWorld War II1949 – Driven out of mainland ChinaRetreat to a precarious existenceThe Cold War

7      In search of a better world

Common features of the communitiesPatronageLocalisation debate – the struggle for relevancyMultiple identities – an identity crisisThe empire strikes backCrushing the Macaense settler mentalityFrom settlers to émigrésThe Macaense diasporaThe last bastion

8      Conclusion – some reflections

One country, two systemsThe realities of history

Appendix 1: Shanghai refugees in Macau circa 1955

Appendix 2: Letters of condolence on J.P. Braga's death



The return of Hong Kong and Macau to China at the end of the nineteen nineties heralded the end of Western colonisation on the China coast. These momentous events marked a period of anxiety and uncertainty for those who had grown accustomed to colonial living and ways of governing. One such group is the thousands of Macaenses, descendants of the Portuguese pioneers. When their forebears arrived in China around 1513, they were the first group of Westerners to make a sustained impact through their settlement in Macau. After the Portuguese empire had all but ended in the Far East, their descendants served the interests of other Western nations until political circumstance forced their retreat to Hong Kong and Macau – some away from China altogether.

Their story and their significant contribution to East - West understanding had been under-assessed. At the beginning of the twenty-first century when China will achieve "super power" status, an appreciation of the Macaenses and their history enriches our appreciation of how far China had come since those beginnings. While interactions with the West will continue to be awkward, how she deals with her many minorities remain a challenge in the years ahead.


My interest in the history of the Macaenses began in the early 1990s as a result of conversations with my friend Daniel Francisco Castro in Hong Kong about his community and his life story. Through him, I saw Macau and the Macaenses in a new light. As opportunity availed, he introduced me to some of its local identities such as Father Lancelote Rodrigues, Julie de Senna Fernandes and many of the interviewees involved in this project. In the United States, J. M. (Jojo) Basto of Connecticut and Flavia Collaço of Seattle were extremely helpful and hospitable. In Australia, J.B. (Bosco) Correa, Mickey Sousa, Stuart Braga and Alfred Barros were generous with their time, stories and further introductions. In particular, Bosco Correa, provided me with unhindered access to his extensive library, without which it is doubtful whether this project would see the light of day. I wish also to thank J. B. (Bosco) da Silva from São Paulo, Brazil, Gloria P. M. (de Souza) Neale and the other interviewees who wished to remain anonymous for giving up valuable time during the International Reunion of the Macaense Communities (III Encontro das Comunidades Macaenses) in Macau during March 1999 – the last before retrocession to China. In Hong Kong and Macau, Benjamin P. Wong and Edward P. H. Woo assisted with contacts while Professor K. C. Fok and Dr. Gary M. C. Ngai, both from the Fundação Sino-Latino Macau, provided helpful insight into recent Macau history.

The staff of the Manuscript Reading Room at the National Library of Australia deserved special mention for their helpfulness and courtesy extended over the many weeks of research conducted there. Above all, I wish to acknowledge the help and encouragement received from my principal supervisor, Professor Edmund S. K. Fung who gave generously of his time to make comments and helpful suggestions during the course of this project. Without his input, this thesis would have been messier and very long. Lastly I wish to thank my wife, Lorraine J. Koo, for the many hours of transcribing the interview tapes, for setting out the lists for the refugee camps in Macau and for her encouragement and personal sacrifices made in the course of the project.

Abbreviations used

BAAG British Army Aid Group
NLA-BMC National Library of Australia – Braga Manuscript Collection
HKVC Hong Kong Volunteer Corps
SVC Shanghai Volunteer Corps
VRC Victoria Recreation Club



The Macaenses

On 19 December 1999, during his final hours as the last Governor of Macau, General Vasco da Rocha Vieira delivered his farewell address to the assembled crowd of local and visiting dignitaries. The South China Morning Post's report of the occasion stated:

Colonisation was never the aim of the Portuguese, the departing Governor said last night as Lisbon's 442-year presence drew to an end. At a cultural event featuring top artists from Portugal and China, General Vasco [da] Rocha Vieira quoted poet Fernando Pessoa: 'Essentially, we were navigators and discoverers, and only as a result of this were we conquerors and colonisers. Before the empire, our approach was already universal.' The General said that navigators were motivated 'solely by a desire to encounter and understand other people. … In the past, as now and in the future, what the Portuguese navigators always desired was understanding, willing co-operation and the creation of something new.1

Looking at the early contacts between the Portuguese traders and the Chinese people in the early sixteenth century, one could warm to such a notion of the Portuguese pioneers as accidental colonialists. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to venture by sea beyond the southern tip of the African continent. In the process they forged a sea-borne empire which, at its height, circled the globe incorporating parts of Africa, Brazil, India, Malacca, Timor and Macau. Its impact was felt as far as Japan. In the wake of these pioneers, settler communities were established. Macau, at the south-eastern corner of the Chinese mainland, had been the home of one such community since the mid-sixteenth century. Their metamorphosis from discoverers to colonisers provides the framework for this thesis.

When the Portuguese first arrived on the Chinese coast in 1513, it had been a mere five years following the official establishment of a presence in India and barely two years after their conquest of Malacca. Before China, their experience of Asia was confined to the various coastal mercantile centres that dotted the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Malay world of Southeast Asia. They had some prior knowledge of China and some of her products but had never been in direct contact with Chinese traders. It was at Malacca that direct contact was first established.

The first group of Portuguese that ventured to China comprised mainly of private traders and adventurers. They went in search of new markets and direct access to Chinese products such as silk and porcelain. China with its wonders, both real and imagined, proved seductive. From such humble beginnings commenced a Sino-Portuguese relationship that became the longest chapter of European colonisation in East Asia, one that lasted continuously for nearly 450 years.

The Chinese products that managed to find their way to Asia and beyond were sought after not only in far away Europe but also in neighbouring Japan. For nearly a century, the Portuguese managed to monopolise the business with Japan until the Dutch and the British intruded upon the scene. The Japanese trade was lucrative and it was possible for one to retire comfortably to Europe after just one successful shipment, if one so wished. But many decided to stay, having got used to the lifestyle and the environment. Most historians agreed that Macau was established and built on the profits derived from the Japanese trade.

For the Portuguese, the establishment of a permanent settlement in Macau during the reign of the Ming emperors was no easy task and there was a lack of consensus regarding the precise nature of the permission granted in the first place. Before long, Macau became an important centre for regional trade linking China with Japan, Manila, Goa and places beyond. This prosperity continued until the first half of the seventeenth century before the Dutch ravaged their strategic outposts and before its traders and Jesuit priests were banned from Japan. Despite these serious setbacks, Macau survived and served as the main entry point to China for all traders, missionaries, diplomats and adventurers until the Opium War (1839-1842) forced the opening of other treaty ports. Thus for three centuries, Macau was the only maritime gateway to China – well before Hong Kong was even envisaged and Shanghai was just a small indigenous settlement surrounded by mud flats.

The early Portuguese settlement in Macau bore close resemblance to the colonial societies that existed in other parts of the Portuguese empire. Among the settlers were traders, adventurers and buccaneers. Priests and missionaries ministered to the spiritual needs of the Christian population and to evangelise wherever possible. There were male and female slaves to service the households and to augment the soldiers who manned the garrisons and protected their ships. Officials were sent from Goa, the imperial administrative capital, to represent the interests of the Portuguese government in Lisbon.

From the beginning, Portuguese men showed little inhibition in forming liaisons with indigenous women wherever they happened to be. As the foundations of the empire were laid, for pragmatic reasons the settlers were encouraged by official policy to marry local women who had converted to the Christian faith. Official records indicated that from the outset, the traders that ventured to the China coast had with them women from Asia and Africa as slaves, lovers and perhaps wives. This process of miscegenation through successive generations produced offspring with exotic mixtures that became the genetic pool for a significant part of the present community. In deference to their origins, the English called them "Macanese" but they prefer to call themselves Macaenses or Filhos de Macao due to the current political connotations associated with the English terminology.2 The Macaenses are unique and possessed a strong communal identity, distinguished by their own language, culture and cuisine, a result of the convergence of many influences to which their community had been exposed to through succeeding generations.

From this tiny enclave of Macau, through choice and circumstance, a significant number of Macaenses moved to Canton, Hong Kong, Shanghai and to other cities around China. Some went further afield to Japan, Indo-China, the Philippines, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia. In the latter part of the twentieth century they continued the process of emigration to geographical extremities, principally to the United States, Canada, Brazil, Portugal and to Australia. In the process they gave birth to the Macaense diaspora that exists today.

1  Cheung Chi-fai, "Handover Day", in South China Morning Post, 20 December 1999.

2  The English term Macanese is still in use in the popular press usually with some qualification.

Survival techniques and skills

The history of the Macaense communities in China suggested various skills that enabled them not only to survive the decline of Portuguese power and influence but also to thrive in the new environment dominated by the British and the Americans. One was their ready embrace of multiculturalism, long before it became politically fashionable to do so. Culturally aware, they were in demand as intermediaries between the foreigners and the local indigenous people. This role earned them the title as a "bridge people".

The Portuguese forebears of the Macaenses were the first group of Europeans to develop systematic and sustained contacts with the ordinary peoples of Africa and Asia. Venturing forth from Europe, they encountered diverse cultures and social systems ranging from the savages of West Africa to the culturally sophisticated Chinese and Japanese. Accommodating the indigenous cultures was not easy considering that Europeans for many centuries had considered their culture and civilisation to be superior to that of the Asians and Africans. The Portuguese approach could be expressed as "flexible engagement". Where possible through their superior armaments and naval skills, they wrested control of various strategic locations in order to divert the passing trade to their advantage. This occurred mostly off the coast of India and along the Straits of Malacca. Where the use of force was inappropriate due to the strength of the opposing sides such as in China and Japan, they adopted a conciliatory stance and aimed for some form of accommodation with the local powers.

Accommodation took different forms. In southern China, bribes were paid to local officials in return for favours. In Japan, aware of the demand for Portuguese armaments and Chinese silk, the Portuguese plied their cargo to their best political advantage. In this they were directed by the Jesuit missionaries stationed there. The Jesuits extended significantly the boundaries of cultural understanding through their policy of total accommodation towards the Japanese and Chinese cultures believing that to be the fastest and surest way to achieve their corporate objectives.

For the Portuguese laity, accommodation occurred at more practical levels. Through miscegenation, communities of racially mixed and culturally adept offspring were born and their descendants remain to this day in many former territories of the Portuguese empire such as in Malacca.3 One such group is the Macaenses from Macau, whose members are scattered around the globe. Many Macaenses claimed that their multi-ethnicity was an advantage to helping them re-settled in different parts of the world.

A major element in their survival was a willingness to work for new masters. After the Portuguese empire had declined in Asia, the Macaenses served the interests of other Western powers in China as well as what remained of the Portuguese interest. Cultivating new patrons and adapting to changed circumstance, they rode the vacillating fortunes on the China coast.

Their multi-lingual skill was another essential tool in the survival of the Macaenses. This ability might have been limited to simple conversations considered inadequate according to the standards for today, nevertheless the ability to communicate with local indigenous peoples made them indispensable to foreigners. In China, the Macaenses' ability to communicate in the local dialects made them highly desirable employees for the British and foreign firms that rushed to China in the aftermath of the Opium War.

Another element in their survival was their mobility and the willingness to uproot family ties. It was not unusual for members of the community to move between the various regional centres such as Macau, Canton, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manila, Singapore or Yokohama. They moved for many reasons: as part of their jobs, to escape economic and political uncertainty, to reunite with family members or in search of new adventures in the same spirit as the early adventurers. They settled at these far away places, set up families and established roots – a regular occurrence judging from the genealogies of the Macaense families as set out by Jorge Forjaz.4

In the history of the Macaenses in China, there were two historical developments that set in train the massive waves of Macaense emigration throughout the region. These were the Opium War of the mid-nineteenth century and the establishment of the People's Republic of China in the mid-twentieth century. The end of the Opium War in 1842 forced many Chinese ports to be opened to foreign trade and facilitated the establishment of foreign communities at these places. The Macaenses were a significant part of these foreign communities and in many places, they were the second largest group of foreigners after the British.5 The proclamation of the People's Republic by the Chinese Communist Party in October 1949 triggered a mass exodus of virtually all the Macaenses from Mainland China along with other foreigners and Chinese. Some Macaenses remained temporarily at their posts while many re-joined families in Macau and Hong Kong. Many also availed themselves of opportunities to emigrate to other countries thus sparking the beginning of the Macaense Diaspora.

From the 1950s onwards, those that opted to remain in Macau and Hong Kong rode with the fortunes of these twin colonies through various political and economic upheavals. The decade of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China caused many people in Hong Kong and Macau to believe that they were living in a "borrowed place" on "borrowed time".6 With a renewed sense of urgency they looked for opportunities to uproot themselves and relocate to countries that would welcome them and provide them with a better life.

It was significant that many Macaenses of the diaspora stressed the impact of outside factors such as the Communist takeover in the mainland and the Cultural Revolution as major influences in their decision to emigrate. This thesis, however, argues that internal factors such as career prospects and family considerations were just as important; in some cases internal family factors were the over-riding consideration. Whatever the reason, the mass exodus from Shanghai, Macau and Hong Kong in the decades after World War II could be viewed as a customary response to the economic, social and political uncertainties that engulfed the Asian region during that period. Some members of the diaspora looked back with regret that circumstances convinced many Macaenses that there was no future for them under Chinese skies.

3  Santa Maria, B., My people, my country, (Malacca, M.P.D.C., 1982).

4  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses Vol. I, II & III.

5  In early twentieth century, the Japanese were the largest foreign group in Shanghai and in some northern ports.

6  Richard Hughe, quoted by Ming K. Chan, "Introduction: Hong Kong's Precarious Balance- 150 years in an historic triangle", in Chan (ed.).

The contributions of the communities

The history of China's interaction with the West would be incomplete if we failed to acknowledge their presence and contribution. The contributions of the community were many. They built up Macau. Through their efforts and some good fortune, often against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, they clung on tenaciously to China through five turbulent centuries – through the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Chinese Republican period, the period of Warlords and the People's Republic. They helped other nations in their dealings with China and in the process sowed the seeds of modernisation in China. When it became evident that their days of glory were over, they graciously allowed other European nations to come in. Perhaps it was expedient for them to do so; nevertheless they did not hinder others' progress; in fact many of them toiled and laboured enthusiastically for the new masters in their own homeland.

Making possible the launch of many businesses and colonial administrations, they established Hong Kong for the British. When the treaty ports were open, many of them followed the British, American, French and others to Guangzhou, Shanghai and other parts of China. They lived at these treaty ports and sometimes died there, far from the placid shores of Macau. For the most part they worked as clerks, interpreters and professionals becoming a significant part of the foreign communities in those ports.

Perhaps their greatest contribution was their function, indispensable for a time, as a bridge, mediator, intermediary and facilitator between the Westerners and the indigenous Chinese. This contribution was one for which they were mostly remembered. It is illuminating to observe that this bridging role was still very much evident in Macau in 1999, where only a small proportion of the population (3%) spoke the official Portuguese language. With the transfer of sovereignty at the end of 1999, the need disappeared overnight. But in the early colonial days, their skills were sorely needed as the Westerners were too conscious of race and class to mix with the local Chinese, except with the elite. The foreigners kept themselves apart. Ensconced in their exclusive clubs, they did not bother to learn the local language beyond a smattering of "pidgin".

Literature Review

Despite their prolonged presence in the China region and their not insignificant contribution, very little had been written specifically about the history of the Macaenses in the China region. This was attested to in the foreword to F.A. Silva's booklet which described it as "an only child".7 First written in 1979 as a pamphlet, its publication in the form of a book in 1996 comprised only fifty-four pages. It covered many topics and provided a comprehensive guide to the community's history during much of the twentieth century. As a historical reference, it had major drawbacks such as the deliberate omission of names and dates. There were memoirs written and published privately by members of the community during the same period. Although these memoirs might be considered self-serving by some, nevertheless they added to the general picture of the Macaense experience.

J.P. Braga's The Portuguese in Hongkong and China had been acknowledged as the definitive work on the early Macaense pioneers of Hong Kong.8 Its status and authenticity had been acclaimed by many of Braga's contemporaries, most notably by Leo d'Almada e Castro, their most prominent Macaense community leader of the post-World War II period.9 Commenced by Braga during World War II, it remained unfinished at Braga's death. His son, Jack Braga, had collaborated on the project but did not complete the project as many had hoped, a point much regretted by the historian Monsignor Manuel Texeira in his editorial note.10 The period covered by Braga's publication extended only to the first few decades of the founding of Hong Kong and although the title referred to the "Portuguese in China", there was no reference to the communities in Shanghai or the other ports. As for the missing chapters alluded to in the foreword, many are amongst the papers of the Braga Manuscript Collection in the National Library of Australia with much of it still in bits and pieces.

So far, the most important publication concerning the Macaense communities in China is Famílias Macaenses. Covering three massive volumes, the Portuguese genealogist Jorge Forjaz attempted to construct the genealogies of the various Macaense families by delving into the records of the parish churches and cemeteries in Macau and Hong Kong, the records kept by individual families and the civil records (those that survived) kept by the various Portuguese consulates in China before 1949. Forjaz himself admitted that the work would contain many mistakes but was convinced that "no Macaense … will fail to find the name of a near ancestor".11 Despite the acknowledged difficulties and inconsistencies, this work provided an important reference for our study of the Macaense diaspora especially as it also included many personal stories from around the world.

Of the history of Macau, a few of the popular volumes invited comment. A Macao Narrative was written by Austin Coates at Jack Braga's suggestion who had assisted Coates with some of his sources.12 The story was well told and highly readable, however Coates made several points which are open to challenge. First, he stated that: "With their characteristically easy-Going temperament, the concept of a trading empire imposed by military force was alien to the Portuguese."13 Here was one instance where Coates allowed his affinity for Macau to stray from the known facts. Many historians had highlighted the Portuguese' use of force to plunder and loot coastal communities as well as ships in the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca, not to mention the antics of the Portuguese ships and acts of piracy on the China coast.

Secondly, Coates challenged the commonly accepted view of the close relationship between Church and State in the expansion of the Portuguese empire. In support of his view, he pointed to the fact that Francis Xavier, the first missionary to Japan, died friendless and alone having failed to enter Mainland China and that missionaries, in general, caused severe embarrassment and political problems for the early traders.14 His view appeared to contradict the one advanced by Jorge Manuel Flores in his study of the early Portuguese traders that "discovered" Japan.15 Flores pointed to Xavier's friendships with merchants such as Jorge Alvares who was an important figure in the China trade being the first Portuguese trader to visit China. Furthermore, the partnership between the Jesuits and the Macaense merchants sustained the missionary efforts in Japan in the latter half of the sixteenth century. This closeness ultimately ended badly for both parties when they were all expelled. Coates' view also appeared to contradict Jack Braga's. In an article published in the Hongkong Daily Press in 1933, Braga wrote: "A feature of all these discoveries was the great impetus given to the missionary work … and no Portuguese ever refused passage to a priest or was ever backward to support a demand for help when such was required in the name of Christ".16

Was Coates mistaken then? Looking at the Portuguese colonial society in general, Coates was correct in believing that profitable trade was their main consideration and that the missionaries often got in the way by being overly critical over the exploitation of slaves and the loose morals of the settlers. However, in the case of Francis Xavier, he was wrong to assume that there was animosity between him and the traders. The reason why Xavier could not get into China proper was not because the traders did not allow him but because they themselves could not get in. On the island of Sanchuang, they were just re-grouping after being chased out of Fujian and Zhejiang province.

Thirdly, giving his reasons for the decline of the Portuguese Empire, Coates cited the "spendthrift carelessness" that squandered the newly acquired wealth and described the Portuguese as "commercially inexperienced, carried away by vainglorious confidence, and with a failure to grasp economic actualities".17 It is debatable whether the Portuguese Crown was squandering its newly found wealth when much of that wealth was expended to consolidate and extend its empire in the various continents. Also it seems unfair and simplistic to tag the Portuguese elite as commercially incompetent when they did manage to carve out such a vast territory and held on to their successes for at least one and a half centuries before the other European powers muscled their way in. During that period, the European settlement in Macau became established and was considered by all as the most important European outpost in the Far East until Shanghai claimed that title at the end of the nineteenth century.

From Shanghai, Fei Cheng-kang's Macao 400 years provided a welcome addition to the body of literature that contributed to our understanding of the history of the Macaenses on the China coast. Drawing upon Chinese and Western sources, Fei related the history of Macau from a Chinese perspective but it was apparent that the writer was heavily circumscribed by the socialistic mind-set. With repeated references to the corruption of local officials and the disposition of the Macaense traders to offer bribes, one was led to believe that all conflicts were settled through bribery and corruption.

Fei viewed many historical events through the prism of Chinese sovereignty and enunciated the many breaches made by the Portuguese. When local officials made decisions that seemed contrary to the wishes of the Central government, Fei appeared overly judgmental and condemned the officials as weak, incompetent and "muddle-headed".18 In so doing, Fei failed to appreciate the pressures that the local officials might be under to balance the demands of a group of foreigners armed with formidable weapons against the wishes of a remote and doctrinaire Central government. Furthermore, Fei's obsession with "bribery" or "routine money" could be construed as an attempt to impose modern day inflections upon a practice that was an intrinsic part of the social and political protocols of the time. As Coates had stated, it would have been impolite for the Macaenses not to offer "gifts".19

Textual difficulties were encountered as a result of its translation from Chinese with further aggravations caused by its convoluted structure as the chapters were arranged thematically and not in chronological order while the absence of an index made it difficult for quick referencing. Despite the above reservations, Fei provided valuable insights into the early Portuguese squatters on the China coast and a probable explanation concerning the nature of the understanding that allowed the European settlement in Macau to be established. A Chinese perspective such as Fei's contributed to a broader understanding of Macau and the Macaenses.

7  Silva, All Our Yesterdays: the Sons of Macao, their History and Heritage, (Macau, Livros do Oriente, 1996).

8  Braga, J.P., The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, (Boletim do Instituto "Luis de Camoes", Vol. XII 1978, Macau).

9  Leo de Almada e Castro, "Some notes on the Portuguese in Hong Kong", in Boletim, (Instituto Português de Hong Kong, No. 2, Setembro - 1949), 265-276.

10  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 243 fn. It appears that different editions exist of this book. The edition in the University of Hong Kong Library pre-dated the edition used for this thesis and might have been one of the original publication. In respect to content, both are identical excepting in two areas: the University's edition does not appear to contain any typographic errors and it did not have Teixeira's editorial remarks referred to above.

11  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses Volume I, 50.

12  Coates, A., A Macao Narrative, (London, Heineman Educational Books, 1978).

13  Ibid., 17-19.

14  Ibid.

15  Flores, J.M., "The Discoverers of Japan", in Review of Culture, No. 17, 1993.

16  "Macao – the Holy City – Europe's Debt to the Portuguese Nation", Hongkong Daily Press, 8 July 1933, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 106-107.

17  Coates, A Macao Narrative, 8-12.

18  Fei, Macao 400 years, 76.

19  Coates, A Macao Narrative, 30.

Aims and scope of the Thesis

This thesis examined the social history of the Macaense communities in China and the nature of their presence in the major centres of the China coast. It identified the process by which they survived the disintegration of Portuguese power; how they adapted themselves and remained useful and relevant in the new environment. Through sheer tenacity, they managed to carve out a niche for their small community and forged a presence that outlasted all the other foreign communities that came to China in their wake. For three and a half centuries, their settlement at Macau was widely acknowledged as the finest European city outside of Europe until the beginning of the twentieth century when Shanghai wrested the mantle from her. By the time Macau was returned to China in December 1999, their continuous occupation of this tiny part of China spanned nearly four and a half centuries. Such a long period of colonisation produced the odd confrontations but in the main they co-existed in relative peace though buffeted always by the volatility of China's internal politics, by events in other parts of the Portuguese empire and the arrival of other Western powers hungry for trade, each eager to establish their own Macaus. The scope of this inquiry encompassed this vast canvas and although we surveyed the earlier period by way of background, our focus was the period ranging from the Opium War (1839-1842) to the end of the twentieth century. Even though the presence of the Macaenses in China had not been well documented due to the lack of records that survived the ravages of wars, revolutions and neglect; yet through the scant information that was available, a fairly coherent picture could be drawn.

An investigation into the social history of the Macaenses in China suggested several avenues of inquiry. First, we aimed to examine the general composition of Portuguese colonial society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in order to highlight the distinguishing features of the early Macaense pioneers. One observation derived was that in the case of China, the solteiro merchants and the Jesuit priests played a unique role in forging trade and cultural interchange; that Portuguese officialdom was often relegated to a lesser role unlike elsewhere in the Portuguese empire.20 The examination of the early Macaense pioneers was also essential to an understanding of the long-running debate over the ethnic origins of the early Macaense pioneers. At times, the debate appeared absurd and annoying even to members of the present community. This early period also provided some clues to the debate surrounding the nature of the "founding" of the Portuguese settlement in Macau circa 1557, specifically the nature of the permissive occupancy granted by the Chinese. Disputation over the precise meaning of the occupancy permits caused many diplomatic and military skirmishes between the two sides in the centuries that followed until the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of 1887 put matters on a firmer footing.

The second avenue of enquiry covered the Macaense presence in China in the centuries before the Opium War (1839-1842). The review of this period aimed to provide a background for our main story. One could observe the fragility of the Macaenses' early prosperity and Macau's economic vulnerability. The early prosperity had been achieved through the triangular trade with China and Japan and other export markets via Manila, Malacca and Goa. As these markets succumbed to Dutch assaults and British competition, we observed the resilience and adaptability of the Macaenses as they struggled to survive. As the thesis demonstrated, Macau's economic vulnerability was a prime factor for Macaense emigration to other parts of China when new treaty ports were opened following the Opium War (1839-1842). Another observation concerned their role as "mediators" and "keepers of the gate" when Macau was the only maritime gateway for Western traders to China. The nature of this role evolved over time and was a major factor that made them attractive as partners and employees of the many Western enterprises that flocked to China in the wake of the Opium War. The Macaenses were so skilful at this that even at the end of the twentieth century, ample evidence remained of their role as mediators between the local Chinese and the Portuguese administration in Macau.

As mentioned above, the main focus of this investigation was the period commonly known as the "treaty century" that was ushered in by the Opium War. Without doubt, it was a most significant period for the Macaenses in China. An examination of this period showed that the Macaenses were uniquely qualified and well-positioned to serve the mercantile ambitions of other Western powers as well as their own. We examined the nature of their presence at the various treaty ports to identify the factors that encouraged so many to emigrate from Macau. In the process, they contributed significantly to the modernisation of China and its relations with the Western world. We highlighted some of their institutions acknowledged in the local press at the time and through the life stories and autobiographies, the life of the Macaense communities could be glanced in some detail. Progressing the examination to the present time, we identified the factors why so many members of the community decided to emigrate from their homes in China to set new roots in the far corners of the globe. A recurring theme through out the long history of the Macaenses in China had been that they emigrated in search of a better world for themselves and their families; hence the title of this thesis.

Of the many books about Hong Kong and Shanghai in the period following the Opium Wars, scant mention was made of the Macaenses who were there. Almost nothing has been published about their contributions. Perhaps this was due to the communities' own indifference, the common practice of recording history from the victors' perspective or that most historians tended to look at this period only from Eurocentric and Sinocentric points of view. On the rare occasions when they were mentioned, it was usually in passing, as part of that diverse group of Eurasians and foreigners comprising of clerks, missionaries, adventurers, professionals and traders that made up the foreign population of these cities during the heyday of the treaty century. Nevertheless, they were present not as uninvolved spectators but as serious stakeholders. They were at the nuclei of the British and Portuguese colonial administrations and inside other foreign consulates. They ran the secretariats of Big Business that controlled the International Settlement in Shanghai. Many were active members of the volunteer and security forces that maintained law and order during times of civil strife. Their communities in Hong Kong and Shanghai were sizeable; according to some sources, equalling if not exceeding the numbers that remained behind in Macau. It was a major assertion of this thesis that the influence of the Macaense community in China had been under-assessed if not also ignored. This investigation of their social history is aimed to demonstrate that, out of proportion to their numbers, the Macaenses made significant contributions to the modernisation of China and her relations with the West and the development of Chinese cities especially Macau, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

20  This could also be said for Indochina and especially for Japan where Macaense traders and the Jesuit mission collaborated closely to achieve their common objectives.

Approaches to the topic

In his study of the British presence in China published in 1999, Robert Bickers discussed the various approaches to the study of modern Chinese history and commented on their inadequacies. He considered that Western research had often focused too narrowly on western impact and actions while some China-centred work such as those that emanated from historians of the so-called "Shanghai school" were often too sterile, either ignoring or downplaying the significance of the foreign influence. According to Bickers, both resulted in an unbalanced view because the foreign settler communities which were part of the foreign presence and so crucial to the development of the settlements were "under-examined or clichéd".21 The Macaenses were one such foreign community in China. Apart from the British and the Japanese, the Macaenses were the next largest foreign community in many of the foreign settlements for many decades. They were surpassed in numbers only in the 1920s and the late 1930s with the arrival of the White Russians and the Jewish refugees from Europe. The study of the Macaenses' presence in China was crucial to the balanced approach that Bickers talked about.

The historian C.R. Boxer shed light on the glorious age of the Portuguese empire when they pioneered European exploration and expansion into Asia, Africa and South America. The Portuguese government had honoured him for his works and in 1971 the University of Hong Kong also honoured him with a Hon.D.Litt. Degree.22 Boxer's works were mostly about the Portuguese empire during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and there remained a significant gap in our knowledge of the latter centuries when the Portuguese colonial empire in Asia was superseded by the Dutch, the British and the French. How the Macaense community survived the disintegration of the Portuguese empire became a recurrent theme in this thesis.

The volumes that had been written about the foreigners in China and of the British presence there hardly mentioned the existence of the Macaense communities or their contribution to the social and commercial life of the treaty ports. This lack of attention about the Macaenses' presence might suggest their demise and descent into oblivion but nothing could be further from the truth. This thesis argued that, far from being redundant or irrelevant, the Macaense community demonstrated their skills in linguistics, in multiculturalism and adapted themselves in their struggle for survival and relevance. Together with other professional skills, they reinvented themselves and rode the winds of change. Many Macaenses served the mercantile interests of the British and other foreign firms in China as thousands of Macaenses left Macau to work alongside the early Western pioneers as clerks, interpreters, musicians and professionals. At a time when the Chinese were without Western formal training and not trusted by the Westerners, the Macaenses provided a ready supply of clerks for the foreign businesses and banks as well as the municipal governments of the treaty ports. Their presence was so pervasive that they were sometimes accused of monopolising these positions for themselves.

21  Bickers, Britain in China, 6.

22  BMC-NLA, MS 4300 Box 26.

Research method

In the process of investigation I surveyed the available literature, published in English, concerning the early period of the Portuguese empire as well as the Portuguese presence in Macau, Japan and other parts of China. These publications were augmented by the Braga Collection of books and manuscripts housed at the National Library of Australia in Canberra. The Collection was fairly sizeable; the Manuscript Collection alone consisted of 200 boxes. José Maria (Jack) Braga was a Macaense businessman, teacher and historian from a prominent family directly related to the earliest Macaense settlers in Hong Kong. He was also well known for being a close friend and collaborator of other historians of Macau such as C.R. Boxer, Austin Coates and Monsignor Manuel Teixeira. The National Library acquired the major portion of Jack Braga's collection in 1966 and he was given the task of organising the materials in his collection. This he commenced to do in late 1968 however due to his illness in 1972 he could not finish the job and the papers and manuscripts were as he left them at that time.

In addition to publications and private papers, interviews were conducted with various members of the Macaense communities from around the world. These case studies were of Macaenses of different age groups, mostly in their fifties and sixties. The oldest was a man of 91 years of age. All were in good health and with lucid memories. They were selected based according to their wide-ranging backgrounds, their knowledge of community histories, and their residence in different parts of the diaspora. They provided valuable insights and a first hand account of their lives and times. The cumulative effect was a fairly comprehensive picture of the impetus to migrate to foreign lands and their successes in adapting to the new environment. Documents and paraphernalia from yester years were precious mementoes in their possessions, validating their stories as well as filling in gaps of lesser known ones. Some of them had rare books and publications, unobtainable from most public or university libraries.

These interviews were conducted according to the requirements set down by the Human Ethics Review Committee of the university which provided extensive protection for the interviewees against misrepresentation as well as providing them with the opportunity to withdraw at any stage from the project.23

To broaden my knowledge of the Macaenses in the diaspora, I joined the community organisation Casa de Macau in Australia. As part of the Australian contingent, I attended the Encontro das Comunidades Macaenses III, the third reunion of the Macaense communities. Some two thousand Macaenses from around the world gathered in Macau for a week-long celebration of Macaense food and culture during which old times were recalled and friendships renewed. Held in March 1999, Encontro III was a very special occasion for the participants; many were overwhelmed by the fact that this would be the last under Portuguese rule. Perhaps because of this the President of Portugal programmed his visit to Macau to coincide with the Encontro and officiated at the opening ceremony. The Encontro provided a first hand experience to absorb the feeling of community, to meet some authors and interview various members of the Macaense diaspora. It was also an opportunity to gain an intimate sense of the history of Macau, to visit various institutions, libraries, study exhibits and to gather research materials.

23  The University of Western Sydney adopts the Ethical Standards and Guidelines set down for Australian universities.

Definitions and terminology

Who are the Macaenses? How are they defined and how has this definition changed over time? The Portuguese lived amongst the people of Asia and through inter-marriage and concubinage with persons of Asian ethnicity fathered many offspring. In Macau, these offspring of miscegenation were known as Macaenses. Many people believed that this Macaense community was what made Macau unique, otherwise it would be just another Chinese city. However, in the final decades of the twentieth century, the definition of a Macaense became rather blurred or taken to extremes. Definitions were attempted along various lines and included the following often overlapping elements.

Firstly by bloodlines: The key element here was the presence of Portuguese blood irrespective of percentages. Some, however, referred to themselves as "pure" Macaenses, meaning they do not have any Chinese blood in them at all but Malay, Goanese, Indo-Chinese, Siamese and perhaps African blood.24 João de Pina Cabral provided the definitive statement in this category when he stated that: "To be a [Macaense] is, fundamentally, to be from Macao, to descend from Portuguese, but not necessarily to be a Sino-Portuguese descendant."25

Secondly by facial features: This is a derivative of the definition by blood. Unable to determine the exact mixture of the hereditary bloodlines, some people resort to the use of facial features as a point of identification. This had been criticised as it excluded many high profile public figures such as Anabela Ritchie, the former President of the Macau Legislative Assembly and J.M. Alves the former Mayor of Macau. At the opening session of Encontro II, Alves criticised the definition based on physical attributes as too narrow.26

Thirdly by language: Some people consider that Macaenses, must by definition, be able to speak Portuguese and better still patuá, their hybrid language. However, this would tend to exclude those brought up in an English speaking environment who cannot speak either Portuguese or patuá such the Remedios brothers who were on trial in Macau in 1933. It was reported that these two Macaense youths from Japan by way of Shanghai could only speak Japanese and English but not Portuguese.27 Even in Macau, very few Macaenses could speak patuá as revealed in an interview published on the 16 August 1998 edition of the South China Morning Post.28

Fourthly by place of birth and residence: According to this definition, Macaenses were those who were born and resided in Macau. By inference, those born or resided outside of Macau were excluded. In the early 1980s, in order to counter the influence of Carlos Assumpção, then president of the Macau Legislative Assembly, the Portuguese Government affirmed that anyone born in Macau, including Chinese and other foreigners, were officially Macaenses also.

Fifthly by marriage: This element was perhaps the least controversial. If one was married to a Macaense, one could be automatically accepted as a Macaense. That was why some of the Macaense families possessed non-Portuguese surnames such as Danenberg, McDougall or Yvanovich.

Sixthly by adherence to Macaense culture: The Macaense literary figure Henrique de Senna Fernandes affirmed this cultural identification when he stated: "We call someone Macanese if he has Portuguese roots or identifies with Portuguese culture. Even if someone doesn't have any Portuguese blood but has the culture, he is Macanese."29

Some influential Macaenses like Carlos Marreiros and Julie de Senna Fernandes preferred even more inclusive definitions. Marreiros told a reporter: "I have friends who are ethnically Chinese and friends who are ethnically European. They were born in Macau and are as Macanese as I am."30 Julie de Senna Fernandes maintained that being a Macaense "is a feeling, not a definition."31 With the Macaense culture in Macau expected to become more sinicized and Macaenses of the diaspora becoming assimilated into their local cultural environments, Julie de Senna Fernandes' view might be considered as most inclusive and appropriate.

24  Zepp, A., "Interface of Chinese and Portuguese Cultures" in Cremer, R.D. (ed.).

25  Cabral, "The ethnic composition of Macao", in Review of Culture, no 20, 1994, 232.

26  Isabel Meneses, "Returning Home", in Macau Special 96, 6-16.

27  South China Morning Post, 14 September 1933, BMC-NLA, MS4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 128.

28  Jane Camens, "Macanese facing veiled future", South China Morning Post, 16 August 1998.

29  Katherine Tanko, "Macau Make Over", in Silver Kris, February 1999, 34-39.

30  Jane Camens, "Macanese facing veiled future", South China Morning Post, 16 August 1998.

31  Harald Bruning, "A watershed reunion", South China Morning Post, 26 February 1999

Inappropriate Labels: Portuguese, Macanese

But different labels had also been used to describe the communities in different parts of China at different times. In Hong Kong newspapers, the Hong Kong-based Macaenses were known as Portuguese while the Macau-based Macaenses were referred to as Macanese. This was a legacy of the treaty-port days when outside of Macau, all Macaenses were recognised as Portuguese for diplomatic and legal purposes. When historians wrote about the Portuguese in China, they often failed to distinguish between the different groups of Portuguese there. Broadly speaking, there were three groups of Portuguese. The first group were the European Portuguese sent out by the government of Portugal to occupy the senior posts in the diplomatic and civil service, the judiciary and the military.32 Then there were the Eurasian Portuguese who were the offspring of centuries of miscegenation, born either in Macau or elsewhere (Goa, Malacca, Timor, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Japan). The third group consisted of Chinese Portuguese residents from Macau who claimed Portuguese protection.

Since our investigation concerned the presence and contribution of the Eurasian Portuguese originally from Macau, the use of the label Portuguese did not allow for sufficient differentiation of this particular group. Worse still, one might give the wrong impression; for example, that the Portuguese Consul-General of Shanghai was a Macaense when we know that he was not – such lofty ranks being the preserve of European Portuguese. For the reasons above, the use of the term Portuguese to describe the Macaense communities was not only inappropriate but it also cast a Eurocentric view which we wished to avoid.33

The use of the English label Macanese was also inappropriate and ambiguous because the term was confined to the community in Macau and because of its adverse political connotations. It tended to exclude those Macaenses who had moved away from Macau for whatever reason.34 By inference it could also include the Chinese residents of Macau.35

For our purposes, it was significant to note that members of the community preferred to call themselves Macaenses, Macaístas or filhos de Macao, all having roughly the same meaning – "sons and daughters of Macao".36 In this thesis the term Macaenses would be used exclusively to describe this community. If the English term was used in the original quotations, it would be retained. The term Portuguese would be used when we wish to emphasise the general aspects of the Portuguese empire of which the Macaense community represented only a small part.

32  Until the early 1970s, Macau had a garrison under the command of European officers. Shanghai and Canton both have a Portuguese consul and Portuguese warships frequently visited Shanghai as part of the international military presence there. European Portuguese officers manned these warships.

33  Bickers, Britain in China, 73.

34  During Encontro III in Macau (20 -26 March 1999), in response to a question from a reporter asking: "Are you Macanese?" a Hong Kong Macaense replied: "What do you mean by Macanese. I am not born in Macau. I am not Macanese. If you ask me whether I am a filho de Macao (son or daughter of Macao), then I say yes". This conversation took place in my presence.

35  During Encontro I in 1993, it was confirmed that the term had indeed been adopted by the Portuguese Government to refer to the entire population of Macau, not just those of mixed blood. Despite this we prefer to use the term "Macaense" due to community preference and ease of writing and reading. Cecilia Jorge & Beltrao Coelho, "Strengthening the Macanese Diaspora", in Macau Special 93, 6-15.

36  Teixeira, "The origin of the Macanese", in Review of Culture, no 20, 1994, 157-161.


What constitutes a community? Whatever definition one chooses to adopt, it usually incorporates a sense of belonging by those from within and can be easily recognised and identified by those outside. While there was little doubt about the existence of a Macaense community in Macau, though small compared to the rest of the population, could demonstrate that the Macaenses outside of Macau were also identifiable as a community in a real sense. At virtually every major city they emigrated to including Shanghai of yore, there were clubs, associations, churches, sporting teams and in some instances, even schools to cater for the needs of the community. Today in the Macaense diaspora of São Paulo (Brazil) they have their own club premises, while other cities had made plans to acquire their own. Their social gatherings celebrated their rich culture, distinctive foods and perhaps keep up with their distinct language. In the early days of Hong Kong, they even lived ghettoesque in close proximity to each other. Many lived in houses that were rather grand in Portuguese Row as reported in the South China Morning Post.37

37  Neil Pereira, "Portuguese Row", South China Morning Post, reprinted in UMA News Bulletin, Sept-Oct 1998.


One could well question whether the term diaspora could justifiably be applied to the Macaenses now scattered around the world. Traditionally, the term was used specifically to describe the mass dispersal of Jews from their traditional homeland to far away places. There was the implicit notion of exile forced through circumstance or choice. Maintaining a strong cultural and religious attachment to the homeland, the traditional sense implied a lack of acculturation to the dominant culture of the place of sojourn. There was also the hint of an eventual end to exile and a return to the homeland.38

It would appear that the experience of the Macaense communities did not fall into the same category as the Jewish diaspora in the traditional sense. However, in New Diasporas, Van Hear applied the term more generally to describe a "trans-national community" dispersed from their homeland to two or more other territories. Their presence abroad is enduring; and there exists some kind of exchange – social, economic, political or cultural – between them.39 According to Van Hear, the factors that caused migration between countries were apparent "disparities in socio-economic circumstances, perceived life-chances and human security".40 These were the very same factors that gave birth to the Macaense diaspora.

The difference between the traditional usage and that adopted by Van Hear appeared in two areas: the degree of acculturation to the dominant host culture and the implied desire to return and resume residence in the homeland. Firstly, one could argue that the traditional usage was wrong because some degree of acculturation always take place when two cultures collide. As Schwartz put it: "[In cultural encounters] whatever the previous understandings and expectations, the contacts themselves caused readjustments and rethinking as each side was forced to reformulate its ideas of self and other in the face of unexpected actions and unimagined possibilities."41 Therefore it is highly unlikely that cultural purity, untainted by the surrounding values, existed in the traditional Jewish diaspora. Secondly, the desire for an end to exile was said to be implicit in the traditional definition of a diaspora. It could be argued that in the history of the Jewish state of Israel since its inception, those Jews who desired to go to Israel were mainly groups that had experienced repressive economic, political and religious conditions in depressed countries. In the Jewish diaspora of Australia, Canada, the United States and Western European countries, most Jewish people are happily and successfully settled in their business and professions. While these successful Jews might contribute generously to Israel, very few would readily and voluntarily end their exile. For the purposes of this study, Van Hear's definition had been adopted to include the Macaense communities now dispersed to the various corners of the globe.

Today, there are more Macaenses outside of Macau than in it. While they remembered Macau with much fondness and nostalgia, few if any, having left there, yearned to return there to live. Through the marvel of modern technology, especially in the field of communications and transport, the communities today maintain a cohesive network of cultural associations, culminating in three international reunions of its people in Macau. In the course of this study, I attended the third of such reunions – Encontro III – in 1999.42 To some of the participants, Macau was their birthplace; to others, it was the place of their forefathers, their ancestral home.

This thesis comprised of several parts. Following the Introduction, chapter two surveyed the colonialists of the Portuguese empire and shod light on the origins of the Macaenses. Chapter three described the presence of the Macaenses in China during the first three centuries by way of a lead into the Treaty Century which was the focus of our investigation. Confining ourselves to the major foreign settlements, chapters four and five explored the nature of the Macaense presence in China from the Opium War to the Cold War outlining some common features of the various communities. Chapter six looked at the cataclysmic impact of the decade of war on the communities, beginning with the Sino-Japanese War of 1937. Chapter seven dealt with the process of dispersal, how the communities maintained their links with each other while the Conclusion offered some reflections on the communities – past, present, and in the new millennium.

38  Skeldon, "Reluctant Exiles or bold Pioneers", in Skeldon (ed.).

39  Van Hear, New Diasporas, 2-6.

40  Ibid.

41  Schwartz (ed.), Implicit Understandings, 1-22.

42  20 - 27 March 1999.


In the wake of the early pioneers

The early pioneers

The Macaenses are a people who were part of the Portuguese empire. As Portugal exerted administrative control over the infant settlement in Macau, the colonial society that emerged resembled other Portuguese colonies in many respects. In this chapter, we survey the colonialists who could be categorised into six main groups: the officials, the convicts/deportees, the settlers, the adventurer-traders, the women and the missionaries.

In the case of Macau, two of the groups, the Jesuit missionaries and the adventurer-traders, contributed significantly to the history of the Macaenses in China. The adventurer-traders were the first group to arrive in China. Being the forefathers of today's Macaenses, their sexual habitude is the subject of discussion regarding the ethnic origins of the community. The Jesuits' contribution to cultural understanding and their role in forging closer relations between China and Macau is also discussed in the course of this chapter.

The officials

The officials were the captains, soldiers and administrators that were despatched to the various settlements to look after the interest of the Portuguese Crown but often ended up enriching themselves. The viceroys, as the Crown's representatives, were appointed for a short term, normally for three years, after which they were replaced by new appointees from Europe who were usually unfamiliar with the East. Appointees to senior positions were not based on merit, but on "degrees of nobility".1 It was almost impossible for capable commoners to be promoted. Corruption and racketeering were rife at all levels of society. As Winnius put it bluntly:

In effect, everybody was making money out of India except for the King, including his highest officials and the clerical orders. As the regime wallowed in debt from its voyages to India, officers and viceroys in the East were either pouring their own cash ... into investments that brought long dividends, or they were taking money from others in return for granting special privileges and allowing evasions of customs duties.2

According to Winnius, these were major factors in the decline of the empire. In the 1980s, near the end of Portuguese administration in Macau, the practice of recruiting personnel from Portugal to fill senior civil service appointments constituted a serious point of dissension between the Macaenses and the Macau governor.3

Soldiers were considered as part of officialdom, and in Portuguese Asia there was always a shortage of fighting men. Those that were available were under-trained and of poor motivation consisting mainly of convicts and exiles from Europe. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the six month journey by sea from Europe exacted a heavy toll. Boxer cited the Fleet of 1571 that reached Goa with only half of the 4,000 men who survived the journey.4 And A.R. Disney suggested another two factors: the great number of deserters who became mercenaries to local chieftains, and soldiers who joined the ecclesiastical orders upon arrival in Goa in order to evade military service. It was estimated that in 1627 when the Dutch were pressuring Goa, there were about 5,000 such Portuguese mercenaries in the employ of Indian chieftains when they could enlist to fight the Dutch.5

In Asia, it was also not uncommon for some Portuguese soldiers to turn their back on Portuguese society. They ran away to become "renegades" by converting to Islam in order to advance themselves socially and economically. The distinction between the mercenaries and the renegades was that mercenaries could return to Portuguese society when they so chose while the renegade would not be so welcomed.6 In the scramble to forge new trade links, it was not uncommon for a Crown official to arrive at his destination to discover that there was already a Portuguese renegade established there.7

With the dwindling supply of willing European men for the military, black Africans were targeted as replacements. In Macau and Shanghai, during the twentieth century, it was not uncommon for the great majority of the Asia-based Portuguese army to comprise mainly of black Africans led by European or mestico (mixed blood) officers.8 There was an incident in Macau in May1922 when rioting occurred in the streets when a black soldier allegedly molested a Chinese woman.9 To alleviate the problem of loneliness for the black soldiers, the Macau government brought over some women to keep them company.10 Such black garrisons continued to be a common feature in Macau until 1974 when Portugal lost its African colonies.

1  Winnius, The Fatal History of Portuguese Ceylon, 87.

2  Ibid., 87-93.

3  Asia Yearbook 1979, 232-236.

4  Boxer, Four Centuries of Portuguese Expansion, 20.

5  Disney, Twilight of the Pepper Empire, 21.

6  Subrahmanyam, The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 249-261.

7  Ibid., 71-72.

8  South China Morning Post, 15 September 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, BOX 1, BRA/3985, 96. Portuguese troops, bound for Macao, arrived in Singapore on board a Portuguese transport ship. It consisted of 29 officers, 68 NCOs and 501 men from Mozambique.

9  Gunn, Encountering Macau, 107

10  Japan Advertiser, June 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, BOX 1, BRA/3985, 124.

Convicts and other deportees

Convicts and deportees consisted of three types: convicted for crimes against property or persons, political exiles, and prostitutes. Convicts were usually illiterate and mostly male. By contrast, the political exiles were generally better educated, though fewer in numbers.11 During the voyages of discovery, convicts performed an important role not only as crew but also as envoys, chief negotiators and hostages in dangerous circumstance. Sometimes, they were left behind to fend for themselves in new places under instructions to explore or to gain information. Vasco da Gama and others regularly resorted to such tactics during their voyages.12

The deportation of convicts to foreign shores was a feature of Portuguese colonial policy from the earliest days which did not ceased until the late twentieth century. In the founding of Australia, the British had prosecuted this policy with greater success. Portugal sent most of its convicts and exiles to Africa and later to Timor. Not all convicts were from Europe however; some were from Goa and other parts of Portuguese Asia. Arriving at their place of exile, convicts were usually allowed in the coastal towns but serious and repetitive offenders were banished inland. Angola in West Africa received the most convicts, an average of two hundred and forty convicts a year between 1883 and 1914.13

Many convicts were enlisted in the armed forces. The conditions for the convicts were severe, causing many desertions. They became bandits and outlaws or mercenaries. Some of these fugitives were extremely adventurous, penetrating far into the African continent to settle amongst the indigenous population. Where possible, they acted as principals or brokers in the gold and slave trade.14 Some applied for permission to leave the service to settle down as married men.

Prostitutes were sent out due to the severe shortage of Portuguese women in the colonies. Girl orphans were also sent out with dowries to help fill the shortage. The practice of sending prostitutes and orphans was abandoned by the nineteenth century owing to economic hardship, the growing surplus of women in the settlements and opposition from the religious leaders of those settlements who criticised the moral decadence that existed. In Macau, the bishop at one stage even effected the forced deportation of shiploads of women back to India and Malacca to alleviate the situation.

11  Newitt, Portugal in Africa, 150-152. The practice of sending exiles to territories far away from Portugal continued until 1974.

12  Subrahmanyam, The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama. See Chapter 3 "To Calicut and back.".

13  Newitt, Portugal in Africa, 150-152.

14  Boxer, Four Centuries of Portuguese Expansion, 24-25.

The settlers

Settlers (casados) formed the backbone of the colonies. By definition they included anyone who aspired to settle for the longer term through liaisons with indigenous women or those of mixed blood (mestiços). They were there to facilitate trade and were usually responsible for the administrative processes of the settlements. The early days of Brazil enticed a lot of free immigrants as opposed to involuntary settlers. But for Africa and Asia, the majority of the settlers were convicts and exiles whose sole objective was to get rich as quickly as possible.15

Their moral conduct was nearly as bad as the soldiers and caused Padre Lancilotto, a Jesuit missionary, to complain to his superiors in December 1550:

Whereas all those who came out here were soldiers, who went about conquering lands and enslaving people, these same soldiers began to baptise the said people whom they enslaved, without any respect and reverence for the sacrament, and without any catechising or indoctrination. ...Some were baptised through fear, others through worldly gain, and others for filthy and disgusting reasons which I need not mention. ...This continued even when India became full of Christian ecclesiastics, and it is still in vogue at the present day. ...There are innumerable Portuguese who buy droves of girls and sleep with all of them, and subsequently sell them. There are innumerable married settlers who have four, eight, or ten female slaves and sleep with all of them, and this is known publicly. This is carried to such excess that there was one man in Malacca who had twenty-four women of various races, all of whom were his slaves, and all of whom he enjoyed.16

The settler group also included the offspring of miscegenation. As time elapsed, the mestiços became the majority among the settled population. They developed their own hybrid culture and became powerful business and political brokers in their own right. The Macaenses were an example of this group. Where ever the Portuguese empire extended to, such mixed race communities abound. In Western Africa they became invaluable with their expert knowledge of the region and the customs of the various tribes. Powerful Afro-Portuguese dynasties were established that gained the trust and confidence of local chiefs. Some even achieved political power by setting themselves up as local chieftains. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries other European traders generally acknowledged that the services of these Afro-Portuguese brokers were indispensable for trade with the Africans.17 Trade was developed not only with Europe but also within Africa itself through the different communities along the coast. At first they traded metal ware, textiles, wheat and horses for Africa's gold, pepper, ivory and slaves. Before long the slave trade dominated. When it became more lucrative to trade with other European traders such as the Dutch, English and French, it was not unusual for the Afro-Portuguese traders to bypass the Portuguese Crown monopoly. By the end of the eighteenth century, European goods sold in western Africa were almost entirely of non-Portuguese origins reflecting the inroads made by other countries as well as the lack of competitiveness of Portugal's industrial output. Until the late nineteenth century it was not uncommon for Dutch, English and French trading companies to employ descendants of these Afro-Portuguese families to work for them in West Africa.18 In this we see a reflection of the Macaenses own survival strategy when confronted with Portugal's faded mercantile relevance.

From the Portuguese settlers' experience in Africa some features could be observed that bore striking similarities to the Macaenses in Macau. They were willing to assimilate themselves and inter-marry with the indigenous population. The Portuguese introduced some new food crops to Africa, chief of which were maize and cassava. Despite given little credit for it, their involvement and domination of the slave trade revealed highly specialised skills, sophisticated organisation and the development of a network of contacts throughout central Africa.19 They demonstrated great cultural skills because "the interests of many different groups of tribal chiefs, caravan leaders, suppliers and middlemen had all to be reconciled and a system maintained, as far as possible, to the mutual benefit of all."20

15  Boxer, Race Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 8.

16  Ibid., 59-61.

17  Newitt, Portugal in Africa, 1-2.

18  Ibid., 3-4.

19  Ibid., 7-11.

20  Ibid., 14.

The solteiro merchants

The solteiro merchants were different to the settlers in that they were usually more mobile. In one respect, they were the itinerant traders that visited places remote from the official settlements. The term solteiro, literally "bachelor", had been used by Subrahmanyam not to denote marital status but to refer to the fact that they were unattached to any place and frequently moved around looking for opportunities at the edges of the Crown trade monopoly.21 Since the Crown monopolised the trade between Portuguese Asia and Europe and rewarded certain favoured subjects with participation in that trade, those who were excluded from such official benefactions had to resort to other avenues of business. These Portuguese pioneers were typically private traders that were very much a feature of Portuguese Asia. Men like these pioneered, and in many cases sustained, the trade in Canton, Japan and the Bay of Bengal. Because they dominated regional trade in the Far East during the first half of the sixteenth century, J.M. Flores credited the discovery of Japan to these solteiro traders. According to him, many solteiro traders were rich and influential members of the Portuguese nobility and were often involved in piracy.22 They had been labelled variously as "entrepreneurs", "adventurers" and were known as "canny compromisers and co-operators".23

They were an integral part of the Portuguese empire. Everywhere these merchants went they expanded trade and spread the Portuguese language and culture. Unfortunately their roles were not well documented due to the lack of records and not having to make reports to any superior. It was stated that in the 1630s Macau had a lot of these merchants who travelled to places such as Japan, Manila, Makassar and Indochina.24

Many writers agreed that the pinnacle of their success occurred in China and Japan through dogged determination. Writers such as Coates heaped praise upon them:

[When officially sanctioned trade was forbidden to them, they] edged into the illegal trade and gradually created for their activities a status of legitimacy. ...The long and determined effort to break down the opposition of the Chinese Government, the tenacious squatting at various places on the China coast, the discovery of Japan: this was the work of individual traders working on their own initiatives, with the knowledge of, but without specific orders from, the Viceroy at Goa or the Captain-General at Malacca.25

The subsequent permission to build the settlement in Macau was seen as the achievement of these men.

21  Subrahmanyam, The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 242.

22  Flores, "The Discoverers of Japan", in Review of Culture No. 17, October/December 1993, 5-16.

23  Wills, "After the Fall – Macau's Strategies for Survival".

24  Subrahmanyam, The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 242.

25  Coates, A Macao Narrative, 25.

The women

European women were extremely rare in the Portuguese colonies unless they were wives of senior officials. In the early period of empire, due to the lack of space on board, the harsh climate, the arduous journey and the needs on the domestic front, the Portuguese Crown discouraged women from travelling to the colonies. The notable exception was girls of marriageable age from the orphanages but their numbers were not large. These orphans were sent out to Goa with individual dowries in the form of minor government posts or small grants of land to encourage their marriage with the men. The Portuguese authorities also sent female convicts to Angola. While their numbers were limited, there was a constant trickle of this group consisting of married women, spinsters, slaves, and gypsies.26 Some women did migrate to the colonies but they went mostly to Brazil, then Asia (mostly to Goa) and Africa in descending order of numbers.27

The shortage of European women induced the official policy to encourage Portuguese men to marry local women. This policy set the Portuguese colonial presence apart from other European colonies. Governor Afonso de Albuquerque (c1509), as chief instigator, encouraged mixed marriages aimed at populating the territories with a loyal band of settlers who could be trusted to look after Portuguese interests. In encouraging miscegenation, Albuquerque might be just sanctioning an established practice. Boxer pointed out that it was not always easy to induce Portuguese in the territories to marry as many "preferred to live with a harem of slave girls ... often of the most varied origins, including Indians, Indonesians, Chinese, Japanese, Malays, Siamese and Africans."28

Jack Braga added that Asian women preferred European husbands. In a speech delivered at the Portuguese embassy in Canberra Australia in 1969, he said:

Anyone who had pondered on the feelings of Asian women will readily appreciate how it was that they clung so steadfastly to their husbands from Europe. And the tolerance generally of the mixed races founded by the Portuguese helped to build up a degree of loyalty to Portugal which newcomers, in later generations, have found it difficult to understand.29

When the Portuguese arrived on the China coast, opportunities for continuing the practice of concubinage and miscegenation were great as they became exposed to the Chinese system of indentured girl-servants, the mui zai, literally meaning "little sister". According to a Hong Kong authority:

[The mui zai] were daughters who had been sold by families in financial difficulties who urgently needed to raise funds. The parents of the child took the initiative to find a 'purchaser', the money being regarded as a gift ... rather than as the price paid for a sale. The parents also wrote on a piece of red paper an undertaking that henceforth they renounced their parentage of the child. [It] was developed in a country where the economic conditions were so bad, especially during times of famine, that female babies were sometimes discarded at birth. ... The family which paid the money used the child as a domestic servant, but could not resell her. They fed, clothed, trained and educated the girl as circumstances permitted, until she became of marriageable age.30

Despite the high ideals engendered in the traditional concept, it was likely that many of them were mistreated or abused. Sometimes they were adopted by childless couples, by widowers or by widows, and brought up as daughters and members of the household. To the early Macaense settlers who were accustomed to keeping a large household of slaves for domestic purposes, the mui zai were probably little more than slaves although some Macaenses were rather generous and made bequests in their wills for them, usually with the proviso that they converted to the Christian religion.31

In Macau, it did not take long before Chinese women became a familiar part of every Portuguese household. Between 1583 and 1585, a Spanish priest from the Philippines who visited Macau on several occasions remarked that the Portuguese of Macau would marry Chinese women "more willingly" than any other women because of their many virtues which he listed as "naturally reserved, honest, humble, and very submissive to their husbands, hard workers and house-proud."32 In 1584 a visitor was impressed by the fact that all the Portuguese he met in Macau appeared to have Chinese wives. And in a letter to King Philip II in 1588, the Jesuit priest A. Sanchez encouraged mixed marriages with Chinese women for military strategic reasons and for their many virtues "being exceedingly chaste, serious, modest and very loyal, humble and obedient to their husbands."33

Historians like Anthony Reid saw the institution of miscegenation as an economic positive for the Portuguese men in Southeast Asia. This was due to the traditional roles which these women performed being active participants in commerce, as retailers, moneychangers and general business brokers.34 According to Reid, in most coastal centres of Southeast Asia it was quite acceptable for local women to be married to wealthy foreigners even though these marriages might be temporary. Therefore it became "accepted practice that visiting traders took a temporary local wife, who was at the same time a commercial business partner able to provide local market information, sell foreign goods in the market, and buy and sell trade goods on behalf of her partner during the monsoon period when he was away."35

That the Portuguese took local wives and these wives might be able to provide valuable market information and contacts were beyond doubt. However it is arguable whether there would have been the level of trust sufficient to leave a big quantity of goods to the care of these "temporary wives" while one was away on another trading trip. It was more likely that the goods would be bartered for other goods or hard currency before the Portuguese trader would leave the place. If inclined to do so, the traders might leave sufficient funds or small quantity of merchandise for the comfort and maintenance of the wife or wives until the next anticipated visit.

Another reason why the trade goods left to the "temporary wives" would not have amounted to much was because the goods represented "working capital". Normally the goods would be required for doing business at the next trading port of call or repatriated to the trader's home base for safe keeping, rather than risking theft, embezzlement or the whims of the local ruler who might not even allow you back in.

Miscegenation was considered a badge of honour amongst the Macaense community.36 Given Albuquerque's policy of encouraging marriage to local women, it had been argued that some Portuguese male might consider miscegenation to be a matter of national duty.37 In the course of this investigation, an interviewee recalled a quote that: "God created the black, yellow and white races, the Portuguese created the colours in between."

The story of women in the Portuguese colonies was essentially the tale of the mixed race women. Macaense women like their counterparts elsewhere upheld the unique traditions in food, culture and language. Attesting to the crucial role played by the women, in places such as Goa and Malacca, there existed remnants of Portuguese heritage long after the political and commercial links with Portugal had been severed.

26  Boxer, Women in Iberian Expansion Overseas, 26-27.

27  Ibid., 63.

28  Ibid., 68.

29  Braga, "Portugal and Asia", BMC-NLA, MS 4301.

30  Ho Tung, A Hong Kong Lady, Her Family and Her Times, appendix.

31  Boxer, Women in Iberian Expansion Overseas, 88.

32  Ibid., 84.

33  Teixeira, "The Origin of the Macanese", in Review of Culture, No. 20 1994, 158.

34  Reid, "Southeast Asian categorisations of Europeans".

35  Ibid.

36  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 15, Envelope 38. Some Portuguese politicians alleged that miscegenation precludes racial discrimination. C.R. Boxer disagreed and went on to publish his book "Race Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire" which demonstrated that discrimination not only existed but was institutionalised. The book provoked an angry reaction from Prof. Armando Cortesao, a one-time friend and beneficiary of Boxer's generosity. The Braga Manuscripts contains evidence of Boxer's remittance to Cortesao including Braga's comment that: "The Portuguese were hurt that a man [C.R. Boxer] so greatly honoured by them should have chosen as his subject such an inappropriate occasion to publish his book. The Americans were at that time stirring up a hornet's net in the matter of colonialism, and Boxer should have waited for another opportunity. But this does not justify Cortesao's mode of attack on his old friend." BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 15, Envelope 38.

37  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 95. J.P.Braga used this argument when objecting to Ljungstedt's use of the term mongrel to describe the Macaenses.

Priests and missionaries

As mentioned above, the sexual mores of the soldiers and settlers caused much anguish to the clergy who were an important component of Portuguese colonial society. Religion played a very important role in the voyages of discovery to the Cape of Good Hope by Bartolomeu Diaz (1478) and Vasco da Gama (1497). Indeed it had been widely accepted that the voyages along the coast of West Africa were commissioned to gauge the extent of Islam and to search for the legendary Christian kingdom of Prester John.38 J.M. Braga observed that "every expedition, if not every ship, had its chaplain or priests, who looked after the spiritual needs of the men. At their destinations the good fathers worked for the conversion of the peoples among whom they found themselves."39

It was not easy to recruit missionaries to serve in the Portuguese colonies particularly in Africa, due to the hostile climate and the tropical diseases. Not only was there a general lack of interest in learning the indigenous languages (with the notable exception of the Jesuits) but the standards of the clergy, particularly in Africa during the eighteenth century, were generally low. Often they also had to resort to trade in order to maintain themselves due to the shortage of funds.40

The Jesuit mission in Japan was a case in point. Since the beginning of its mission, the Jesuit mission had invested heavily on cargo from China via Macau to be sold in Japan. This started when Luis de Almeida (1525-1583), a successful Portuguese merchant in Malacca, became a Jesuit and used his money to invest in the lucrative commerce with Japan. He used the profits to support the mission's work there. In Japan, trade and missionary work were closely intertwined from the very beginning. Mostly their investment was passive, as a silent partner, but sometimes as Jesuit records showed, members of the Society would come from Japan to "trade like the rest of the Portuguese merchants" not only in Macau but also in Canton.41 In response to growing criticism from within and outside the religious order, Father A. Valignano, the regional supervisor, reviewed the Jesuits' involvement in trade in the late sixteenth century. The result was that participation in trade continued at a reduced scale.

On several occasions, the Portuguese Crown forbade trade by the Jesuits but the ban was never fully enforced due to a lack of will and the alternate resources to sustain the needs of the missions. In the mid-seventeenth century an Englishman Peter Mundy recorded that the Jesuit involvement in trade was necessary due to the high expense of setting up the missions and their upkeep. Funds were also needed to provide presents to the various local authorities. Elsewhere in Indochina, the Jesuits replicated their trading activities, developing new markets in conjunction with small traders. In Goa, the Jesuits who were administering the hospital there even won the license for a trading voyage to China in 1596.42

Aside from this and other controversies, the Jesuits' scholarship and their pioneering work were legendary and their contributions immense, as Boxer had observed:

Whatever the failings of the Jesuits, the fact remains that they were the best educators, teachers, and missionaries in the Portuguese colonial world. Their sudden and drastic removal left gaps that were not filled for centuries, if indeed they have all been filled at the present day. More especially Portuguese influence in Asia received a blow from which it never recovered.43

In Macau, the Macaense traders were known to be resentful of the powerful influence that the Jesuits in Japan had over their trade and that they were obliged to provide space for the Jesuits' own cargoes.44 On the other hand, no one doubted the benefits to Macau of the influence of the Beijing Jesuits at the court of successive Ming and Qing emperors. In the mid seventeenth century, during the period of dynastic change, without the Beijing Jesuits' intervention it was arguable whether Macau would have survived. Outsiders saw the Jesuits and Macau as one. When the Jesuits were expelled from Japan due to their interference in its internal politics, the Macaense traders were also expelled at the same time.

38  Subrahmanyam, The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama, 45-47.

39  Braga, "Portugal and Asia", BMC-NLA, MS 4301.

40  Boxer, Race Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 7-8.

41  Leitao, "The Jesuits and the Japan Trade", in Review of Culture, No. 17, October/December 1993, 23-24.

42  Boxer, Fidalgos in the Far East, 169-172.

43  Boxer, Four Centuries of Portuguese Expansion, 84-85.

44  Flores, "The Discoverers of Japan", in Review of Culture, No. 17, October/December 1993, 5-16.

The Jesuits' contribution to cultural understanding

Perhaps it was in the area of cultural understanding that the Jesuits made their greatest contribution to the Portuguese empire and the Western world. Being the first Europeans to venture eastward beyond the Cape of Good Hope, the encounters between the Portuguese and the peoples of Asia were awkward with a fair degree of trepidation on both sides. This was despite the fact that Asian and European traders had interacted with each other for many centuries before the Portuguese blazed a maritime route via the Cape of Good Hope.45 Some Europeans even managed to reach parts of India, Siam and Sumatra in the company of Arab or Persian traders.46

The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was founded in Italy in 1540 and according to the protocol that existed at the time, they had to operate under the royal patronage (padroado real) of the Portuguese Crown in the areas of Africa, Brazil and Asia that were controlled by the Crown. This patronage represented rights and responsibilities bestowed by the Vatican. In effect the Portuguese Crown bore the costs of the missionary endeavours in return for the right to present candidates for appointment as bishops, to collect tithes and to administer religious taxes within their domain.47

Francis Xavier arrived in Japan on 15 August 1549 and started the Jesuits mission. The next thirty years were fruitful as far as the number of converts was concerned but they were cultural insensitivity at the leadership level.48 Confronted with the vast gap between European culture and that of China and Japan, the Jesuit missionaries pioneered a new approach in missiology. Known as the accommodative method, it was essentially an attempt at synthesising Christian beliefs with local cultural traditions.

Alessandro Valignano, the regional supervisor who first visited Japan in 1579 was responsible for orchestrating this new approach. In this he had input from Father João Rodriguez, commonly known as "Rodriguez the interpreter", renown as one of the most significant exponent of Japanese culture to the western world in the sixteenth century, and well connected to sections of the Japanese ruling elite.

The accommodative approach stipulated that at all times the Mission must conduct business in Japan with due respect for Japanese custom and with proper Japanese ceremony so as not to cause an affront to their hosts and other important guests. In particular Valignano specified basic rules for his padres to adhere to. They were to maintain themselves and their residences in a clean and immaculate manner according to perceived Japanese standards. No pigs, goats or cows were to be kept and no slaughtering of animals allowed in the compound as such practices was "filthy and abominable in the eyes of the Japanese." They were to live in Japanese-style houses with well ordered gardens, eat Japanese food at Japanese low tables even when they were by themselves. They were to maintain politeness in their behaviour and a dignified and authoritative bearing. Regarding important visitors, they were required to observe and pay respect to their rank and status. There was to be an accelerated emphasis on education. It was recognised that the Society needed to admit Japanese to tackle the shortage of manpower. Valignano believed that only through its Japanese recruits could the Society hope to firmly establish its work and secure its future.49

In Macau, Alessandro Valignano (1539-1606) decided that the Jesuits must learn the Chinese language and customs. For this purpose he sent for Michele Ruggieri (1543-1607) from Goa to learn the language, beginning with trips accompanying traders to Canton. Having made a good impression, Ruggieri was the first missionary to be officially invited to Canton. At the request of the provincial governor, he took up residence in a Buddhist temple, shaved his head and wore the clothes of a Buddhist monk. On his second trip Ruggieri took Matteo Ricci (1552 -1610) with him. Ricci was from a wealthy family and became a Jesuit when he was eighteen years old. At the age of thirty he went into China with Ruggieri and lived there for the rest of his life. Encouraged by Valignano, Ricci pioneered a new approach by seeking to reconcile Chinese culture with Christianity. This accommodative approach dealt not only with minor points of proper terminology such as what word to use in translating the concept of "God" but also whether the Chinese ancestral rites were religious in nature or merely social and civil and therefore permissible for Chinese Christians to participate. Ricci contended that its nature was of the latter. After his death, this approach was debated on and off for the next one and a half centuries in what became known as the Rites Controversy of 1610-1742.50

Mateo Ricci had a profound effect on the cultural interaction between China and Europe through his intellect, his language and people skills. He was a great interpreter of Chinese culture and Confucianism to Europe. Even centuries after his death, he had been acclaimed by Europeans and Chinese alike as the "Pioneer of East-West cultural exchange".51

Others ably followed the inroads into the Chinese court pioneered by Ricci during the Ming dynasty. When the Qings came to power in 1644, Father Adam Schall von Bell (1591-1666) continued Jesuit influence at the Imperial Court. On one occasion he was the only person who could calm the first Qing emperor Shunzhi (r1644-1661) when he suffered one of his "uncontrollable rages".52 He was appointed, together with Father Verbiest, a director of the Beijing observatory amongst his many other accomplishments. Following his death, Father Verbiest assumed the leadership of the Beijing Jesuits.

Although operating under Portuguese Royal patronage, the Jesuits were rather cosmopolitan in their membership. Their work in China had been dominated by intellectual giants like Ricci (an Italian), Schall (German) and Verbiest (Belgian), but according to Boxer, Jesuits of Portuguese origins like Thomas Pereira, Joseph Suares and João Mourão were no less important or less influential. Boxer was convinced that the relative anonymity of Portuguese Jesuits "is largely due to the ignorance or indifference of their own countrymen."53

The Portuguese Jesuit, Thomas Pereira was an outstanding role model for his compatriots. In 1672, at the age of twenty-seven, Pereira was summoned by the young Qing Emperor Kangxi as a music teacher and mathematician on the recommendation of Fr Ferdinand Verbiest the leader of the Beijing Jesuits. Pereira came to be held in such high regard by the Emperor that he was consulted on all matters relating to Europeans and was included as a member of the Chinese diplomatic mission to Nerchinsk for the negotiations of a peace treaty between China and Russia over border issues. The credit for the Kangxi edict of 22 March 1692 permitting the open propagation of the Christian faith over all areas of the Chinese Empire was claimed as the work of Pereira, achieving one of the Jesuits most cherished dreams.54 Such was the favour he found with Kangxi that upon Pereira's death, the Emperor provided a great sum of silver to cover his funeral expenses to ensure that he was buried with great honour in Beijing. In one of Braga's letters to Boxer, he wrote:

At his [Fr. Pereira] death Emperor Kang Shi caused a marble tomb to be erected over the priest's grave. Only three graves have marble tombs – Father Ricci, Father Verbiest, and Father Pereira. This in itself speaks for the importance in which Father Pereira was held by the Emperor, while other marks of pleasure are to be found mentioned in the Portuguese archives.55

Beyond cultural understanding and representing China to Europe, the Jesuits were also remarkable for their contribution in introducing so many European ideas and innovations to China. This was made possible only through the patronage of the Portuguese Crown and the tangible assistance provided by some Macaenses in Macau.

45  De Silva: "Beyond the Cape: The Portuguese encounter with the peoples of South Asia".

46  Reid, "Southeast Asian categorisations of Europeans" in Schwartz (ed.), 274. Nicolo Conti from Venice reached India, then Sumatra in Arab vessels in 1430s.

47  Boxer, Four Centuries of Portuguese Expansion, 64-67.

48  Elison, Deus Destroyed, 54-84.

49  Ibid.

50  Boxer, Fidalgos in the Far East, 163-164.

51  China Pictorial (Beijing) July 1982, quoted by Mungello, Curios land, 46 footnote.

52  Paludan, Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors, 191.

53  Boxer, Fidalgos in the Far East, 157-159.

54  Guillen-Nunez, "Thomas Pereira, S.J., and the Eclipse of the Portuguese Padroado".

55  Letter from J.M. Braga to C.R. Boxer, BMC-NLA, MS4300, Box 44, Folder 1.

Ethnic origins of the Macaenses

As mentioned earlier, one could find many hybrid communities like the Macaenses of Macau in the Portuguese colonial experience but it was the Malaccan Portuguese community whose influence impacted the Macaenses most – in food, dances, songs and language.57 At one stage, the Macaense women of Macau adopted their dress code for their women. What distinguished the Macaenses from the other hybrid communities of the former Portuguese colonies are the Sinitic influences, the length of their colonial history, the organised structures present in the communities of the Macaense diaspora and the multi-ethnic origins that made up the Macaenses that we know today.

The ethnicity debate

The debate on the ethnic origins of the early Macaenses seemed like an exercise in futility. There appeared to be consensus over the existence of Chinese traits in the Macaense gene pool, but disagreement over when those traits became significant.

On one hand, some like Carlos Estorninho believed that before the opening of the treaty ports in 1842, the Portuguese did not inter-marry with the Chinese due to Chinese racialism and that it was only in the early twentieth century when cohabitation became common.58 Supporters pointed to the lack of Chinese influence on the Macaense language compared to Malay and Indian influences, the apparent lack of Chinese customs and mannerisms amongst the community, the lack of Chinese influence in the day to day apparel fashions of the early Macaenses (compared to Malay influences) and the alleged disdain that the Macaenses had for the Chinese.59 Graciete Batalha used old photographs of Macaense children to illustrate her belief that Chinese ethnic traits in the Macaense genetic pool were only a recent event. She claimed that the children's features appeared to be more Malay than Chinese.60

Ana Maria Amaro acknowledged that due to the lack of statistical data it would be impossible to determine the issue to the satisfaction of all. She believed that prior to 1557, the Portuguese adventurers did not bring their wives because they did not know how they would be received or how successful they would be. With the establishment of Macau in 1557, they were likely to be accompanied by women of different ethnic groups but Amaro contended that in the first decade of the settlement, the wives of the Portuguese in Macau could not have been Chinese because the Chinese considered foreigners as barbarians. In those days, relations between Chinese and Portuguese were likely to be confined to trade other than in exceptional circumstances. She concluded therefore that "the historical sources point towards Malay and Indian women as the earliest companions of the first Portuguese settlers in Macao; in the function as slaves."61

J. de Pina Cabral was also of the view that the first settlers were ostracised by the Chinese and any contact with Chinese women were usually from the lower social classes, predominantly the fisher folks who lived in boats or the Chinese slaves.62 The eminent Macau historian Monsignor Manuel Teixeira took the contrary position that cohabitation between Portuguese settlers and Chinese women was a very common feature of early European settlement in Macau, citing contemporary sources as well as C.R. Boxer. Boxer wrote:

The first colonisers of Macao, most probably married with Malay, Indonesian and Japanese women: but with the increase of the Chinese population of Macao (as occurred in 1564), there must have been an increase in the number of mixed marriages, and, above all, of concubinages with Chinese women and girls, who became converted to Christianity.63

Teixeira strongly disagreed with Batalha's observations. On the basis of his fifteen years' residence amongst the Malays, Teixeira considered that what Batalha termed Malay characteristics were not Malay at all but Portuguese.64 He further pointed out that language was not a valid example because although the Dutch had conquered Malacca for a period twice as long as the Portuguese, yet Portuguese words impacted on the Malay and the creole language of Malacca much more that the Dutch.65

Regarding the first settlers, Teixeira cited historical records in 1563 that showed the first settlers, who numbered about five hundred Portuguese, inter-bred with Indian and Malay slave women. However, in an attempt to control the moral laxity of the enclave, the Jesuits in 1564 caused the deportation of over four hundred and fifty slave women to Goa and about two hundred to Malacca. Following the deportation of these women, Chinese and Japanese women took their places.66 Boxer contended that the "considerable mixture of Chinese blood ... derives largely from the co-habitation of Portuguese and Eurasian male householders with their [mui zai]."67

56  Silva, Things I Remember, 3.

57  Boxer, Women in Iberian Expansion Overseas, 85-86.

58  Carlos A.G. Estorninho, quoted by Teixeira, "The Macanese", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 88.

59  quoted by Teixeira, "The Macanese", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 84-129.

60  quoted by Teixeira, "The Origin of the Macanese", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 159.

61  Amaro, "Sons and Daughter of the Soil – the first decade of Luso Chinese Diplomacy", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 12 - 67.

62  Cabral, "The ethnic composition of Macao", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 232.

63  Teixeira, "The Macanese", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 157-161.

64  Teixeira, "The Origin of the Macanese", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 159.

65  Ibid., 158-159.

66  Teixeira, "The Macanese", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 84-129.

67  Boxer, Women in Iberian Expansion Overseas, 87-88.

Shortcomings of the debate

The debate about ethnic origins suffers from various shortcomings. First, it tended to be confined to the first decade of the official settlement in Macau around 1557. It also ignored the very significant period of informal settlement along the coast from 1520s to 1550s, the period of illicit trade during which they lived amongst the Chinese coastal communities. These Portuguese squatters were among the first settlers in Macau. Given the official "populate or perish" policy and the lifestyle of the Portuguese pioneers, it appears highly likely that Chinese traits would have made their way into the Macaense genetic pool in more than a sporadic fashion. During this pre-Macau period, Chinese sources revealed that circa 1520 the Portuguese traders were accused of kidnapping and buying Chinese women and children as slaves. This aspect was among the various negative images that the Ming imperial court had of them. As K.C. Fok observed, it was one of the many reasons why they were expelled in 1519.68 Furthermore, there was clear evidence that the Portuguese traders were closely aligned with smugglers and pirates on the Fujian coast. On 19 March 1549 the Ming forces attacked the smugglers capturing and killing 239 persons. Of these 16 were identified as white foreigners, 46 black foreigners, 29 foreign women and the rest Chinese pirates.69

Second, the debate focused on lawfully wedded wives but skirt around the issue of concubinage or cohabitation. From other parts of the Portuguese empire, there were reports of Portuguese settlers keeping many slave women for sex, suggesting that concubinage was more the norm than the exception. If these early Portuguese would cohabit with female slaves of other races, it was highly likely that they would do the same with the Chinese women they had procured. At the outer fringes of the Portuguese empire the loose moral conduct of these men raised the ire of many a Jesuit priest. One such priest, Padre Lancilotto, wrote a complaint in 1550. Boxer remarked that "there may be some exaggeration in Padre Lancilotto's scandalised description of the excesses of the Lusitanian libido in sixteenth century Asia, but there was not much."70

Third, many observers commented on the Chinese sense of cultural superiority as an impediment to cohabitation. While there may be an element of truth in it, for the ordinary Chinese around Macau most of whom were fisherfolks and farmers, marriage or concubinage to Portuguese men would have some appeal seeing that the early Portuguese settlers appeared rich and powerful with their weapons, garrisons and their retinue of slaves.

Fourth, the reason why Macaense women did not dress like the Chinese was capable of another explanation. The point that needed to be raised was: to dress at what social stratum? W.J. Peterson observed that in the mindset of Europeans of the sixteenth century, the question of what to wear was indeed a very important one.71 Clothing or lack of it reflected degrees of cultural sophistication. To dress like the ordinary Chinese women that the Macaenses encountered at the local market in Macau would be demeaning to the Macaense women. Moreover, there were restrictions placed on the movement of ordinary Chinese in the early days of Macau and to dress like an ordinary Chinese when they went outside would invite ridicule and harassment.

Lastly, regarding Batalha's use of photographs. During my research into Macaenses of the diaspora, I asked to look at photos at different stages of their life to test Batalha's methodology. I discovered it to be unreliable at best. Interpretations of facial features are not only highly subjective and depended on one's experience as Teixeira had observed. Moreover features changed over one's life time. If photographs over an individual's lifespan were taken into account, a different conclusion might be drawn. Setting aside the sterile argument of what are considered Portuguese, Malay, Indian or Chinese features, it appeared that they do become less or more pronounced at different stages of life.

The complexity of the Macaenses' ethnic origins resulted from miscegenation between the Portuguese and many other races. Taking into consideration the three decades of informal settlements along the China coast before their consolidation at Macau, this fact alone suggest that Portuguese men had ample opportunity to cohabit with Chinese women from the very beginning.

68  Fok, "Early Ming Images".

69  So Kwan-wai, "Japanese piracy in Ming China during the 16th century", quoted by Fok, "Early Ming Images".

70  Boxer, Race Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 59-61.

71  Peterson, "What to wear?".


Similarities and differences existed between the different colonial societies. In the main, the differences arose out of Macau's location at the extremity of imperial influence and Portugal's inability to exert control over the Chinese State. In addition, Macau's primary function as an entreport for Chinese products eliminated much of the need for plantation slaves, convicts and other deportees to boost the population.

Although separated by great distances, the different colonial societies were united by their allegiance to the Portuguese empire, sometimes coming to each other's aid financially and militarily. Another distinguishing characteristic was their tenacity and dogged determination in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Many writers had alluded to it but G. Winnius put it well when he wrote:

The Portuguese could absorb all the bad leadership, political and military, from which they suffered in Asia, they could defy all the scarcities and distances, and still they could fight ferociously. …They had their share of blunderers and thieves among them, but they were a steadfast people who exemplified that greatest of all human characteristics, ... of never knowing when to quit.72

The Portuguese pioneers on the China coast shared with their compatriots elsewhere the same desire to get rich as quickly as possible and a willingness to move to areas offering better gains. This economic imperative shaped the communities in a profound manner and was one of the factors that influenced many to leave for the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and elsewhere in the second half of the twentieth century. It was for economic reasons that some Macaenses, having migrated and settled their families overseas, returned to Hong Kong and Macau in the 1980s to start businesses or resumed careers hoping to participate in the economic boom that engulfed the East Asian region.

Macaenses took their religious affiliation seriously and shared the enthusiasm to evangelise by providing financial support. Families encouraged their children to enter the priesthood or join the sisterhood of nuns to serve in different parts of China, as seen in the various personal accounts. Indeed, J.P.Braga had described the closeness of ties between the Macaenses and the church in his book.73

The keenness to cohabit with indigenous women and women of mixed race was a distinguishing feature of the community that set it apart from other settlers on the China coast. Today's Macaenses take pride in their multi-ethnicity and often speak of themselves as the embodiment of cultural interchange where West had met East. They shared a high degree of cultural awareness that equipped them to perform the role of a bridge people. Today's Macaenses credit this to the tremendous impact that their amahs and other women in the households had on them as well as the opportunity of mixing and growing up with people of other ethnic backgrounds.

72  Winius, The Fatal History of Portuguese Ceylon, 168.

73  Braga, The Portuguese in Hong Kong and China, 23-44.


Uncharted seas and inhospitable lands

– Macaenses in China, sixteenth to mid-nineteenth century

Inhospitable lands

The first three centuries of Macaense settlement in China witnessed the transformation of the community from illegal fringe-dwellers to legitimate traders, from sojourners to settlers, and from living at the outer fringes of the Portuguese empire to being the epicentre of Western imperialism in China. From shaky foundations, the Macaenses survived and rose to prominence on the China coast. How they survived and collaborated in a relationship that lasted unbroken for over four hundred and fifty years formed the subject of the following chapters. Through it all, the Macaenses were no mere spectators.

According to Jack Braga, the first Portuguese to set foot on Chinese soil was Jorge Alvares in 1513 during the reign of the Ming Emperor Zhengde (1506-1521). Alvares was sent from Malacca to find out more about the Chinese and the possibility of trade.1 News of the new trading destination spread quickly among the Portuguese in Malacca and Goa and soon other private traders joined in. The first official attempt to establish trade and diplomatic relations with China was the despatch of the Thome Pires mission in 1517. It was unsuccessful and the mission ended in disaster for Pires and his party. The failure of the mission was due to various factors including the alleged misconduct of their compatriots on the China coast especially that of Simão de Andrade. As a result, all Portuguese ships were forbidden to enter China from 1521.2

Following this ban and the subsequent expulsion of another emissary fleet under the command of Martin Alfonso de Melo Coutinho, the Portuguese resorted to trading illegally along the coast of Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, facilitated by powerful Chinese interest and corrupt local officials.3 On the Fujian coast, Portuguese ships were allowed to be careened for repairs. There were several trading posts established along the coast with the one at Ningbo being the subject of controversy regarding its size.

1  Quoted by Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 11.

2  Fok, "Early Ming Images".

3  Subrahmanyam, The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama, 283.


Some writers, the Macaense historian Montalto de Jesus included, claimed that Ningbo was the first European settlement in China. He referred to a description of a flourishing settlement in Ningbo by Fernão Mendes Pinto, said to have been on the crew of the first Portuguese ship to reach Japan. According to Pinto, Ningbo was "deemed the finest and richest among the colonial establishments of Portugal with a foreign community of twelve hundred Portuguese and eighteen hundred Orientals." Pinto described the destruction of the Ningbo settlement in 1542. It was ordered by the provincial government in retaliation for the raid by Portuguese pirates on neighbouring villages. The destruction of the settlement was said to have taken five hours with a force of sixty thousand men and over three hundred vessels. It cost the lives of twelve thousand Christians including eight hundred Portuguese who perished on board their thirty-five ships and forty-two junks.4

Montalto acknowledged that Pinto's credibility had been challenged and that there appeared to be no record of such a calamity in the Chinese archives. He thought it strange that "such a catastrophe as the destruction of a town with its churches, hospitals, and a large fleet, and the massacres of so many thousands ... of obstinate lawless foreigners ... could not have escaped the attention of the court annalist." Nevertheless Montalto contended that such a settlement did exist, as the ruins of a fort were found in Ningbo. The fort was of "decidedly European construction [with] the national arms of Portugal carved on a gate."5

Although no Chinese record of the destruction of Ningbo existed, there was a recorded incident off the Fujian coast on 19 March 1549, eight years before the settlement of Macau, when Ming forces attacked the smugglers.6 They were forced out allegedly for trying "to set up colonial strongholds at these places."7 Following various attacks by the Ming troops in Zhejiang and Fujian, the Portuguese returned to the southern province of Guangdong when a rapprochement of sorts between them and the provincial authorities had been made in 1553.8 In return for officially sanctioned trade, the Portuguese agreed to pay the various taxes that other merchants from Southeast Asia paid; in effect to be law abiding and work within China's customs regulations.9 This change represented a significant departure from hostilities towards a spirit of co-operation, compliance and compromise.10 Accompanied by the payment of substantial bribes, permission was given and for a short period they traded at Shangchuang Island before moving to Langbai (Lampacau) where from 1553 to 1557 an annual trade fair was conducted where Chinese goods could be purchased.

4  C.A. Montalto de Jesus, Historic Shanghai, xix.

5  Ibid. However, Jack Braga considered that stories of a great settlement in Ningbo were "pure fiction". If it existed, it was likely no more than little shacks. See BMC-NLA, MS4300, Box 12, Envelope 1.

6  Reported by Rev. W.C. Milne, quoted by Montalto de Jesus, Historic Shanghai, xx notes.

7  Fei, Macao 400 years, 20.

8  One writer, Wank-Nolasco Lamas stated that Leonel de Sousa was the Captain-major of the Japan voyage at the time and had been sent to negotiate with the Chinese. However C.R. Boxer in Fidalgos in the Far East, compiled a list of the Captain-majors of the Japan Trade for 1550 - 1640 from the Jesuit Archives. From Boxer's list, it appeared that in 1553, the year that de Sousa reached agreement with local Chinese authorities, he was not the Captain-major. De Sousa was not listed as a Captain-major until 1558. Given the above contradiction, it appeared likely that de Sousa, at the time when he reached agreement with the Chinese, was just a private trader looking for a stable trading environment having failed to obtain supplies on a previous voyage in 1551. See Fei, Macao 400 years, 22.

9  Fei, Macao 400 years, 22.

10  These were important elements in the successful implementation of the "Macau formula". See Fok, "The Macau Formula".


There were political, economic and logistic reasons for the decision to consolidate at Macau. K.C. Fok observed that from the provincial authority's point of view, Macau was ideally located. It was close enough to allow the province to harness the benefits of trade while keeping an eye on the Portuguese, yet far enough to lure the Portuguese away from associations with the coastal pirates and anti-dynastic forces from the interior. It was also convenient, as the Portuguese did not fit into the mould of the Chinese tributary trade system. Located at a safe distance from major population centres, Macau represented a compromise between the "staunchly doctrinaire central officials and the more practically-minded provincial officials."11 For the Portuguese, it was attractive and offered better food and water supplies and being closer to the important trade centre of Guangzhou.12

The settlement grew rapidly. In 1555, according to a contemporary source, there were only about seven Portuguese living in Macau with most of the traders still in Langbai. Around 1562, they all consolidated their activities at Macau and within twelve years, a large settlement emerged that consisted of three churches and a hospital for the poor servicing a community of five thousand Christians. It was a very rapid increase in population given the state of transportation and communications in those early centuries.13

There were divergent views regarding the nature of the permission for the European settlement at Macau. Regardless of the controversy, several points could be made regarding the early Macaense settlers and factors that shaped their identity. Firstly, by the time Macau became the main settlement for the Portuguese in China, they had already been in China for nearly forty years. This promoted a strong sense of belonging as well as impacting upon their ethnicity. Secondly, the settlement of Macau was considered as an achievement between the Chinese provincial authorities and the private traders, creating a sense of independence and desire for autonomy from Lisbon and Goa. The Chinese connection placed the Macaense settlers in an influential position and gave rise to their much-publicised role as a bridge and intermediary between the Portuguese officials and the Chinese. As the Portuguese empire declined, these skills provided the means of survival for the Macanese community. Thirdly, the existence of Macau and its viability depended to a large extent on the goodwill between the Portuguese officials and the Chinese authorities. The shift towards co-operation, compromise and compliance was essential for China giving them permission to settle; and necessary for their survival in latter centuries.

In the first few decades of their arrival in China, the interaction between the Portuguese and Chinese were a series of clashes and blunders on both sides due mainly to their ignorance of each other. Ming China displayed a high degree of cultural arrogance and ignorance of foreigners from Europe while the Portuguese arrived in Asia with heavy cultural and religious baggage and a tradition of extreme hostility towards Muslims. The Portuguese could not have been expected to know what was in store for them as they ventured to distant lands and were hampered by the lack of knowledge of the language, local laws, customs and religions. Until their arrival in China, what they had achieved in the rest of Asia came through the use of force. As Chandra Richard de Silva observed, the use of excessive force to plunder other ships and to bomb populated centres into submission caused relations to deteriorate to greater depths than mere cultural misunderstanding.14 In China, the force applied by the Portuguese proved ineffective due to the strength of the Ming forces. Eventually compromise, compliance and co-operation won the day for Portuguese interests.

The Portuguese also appeared to be ignorant of the Ming dynasty's concept of the world order and their system of tributary trade and diplomacy. Even if they had understood, it was doubtful whether they would be prepared to accept their allotted place within it.15 The first embassy group led by Thome Pires did not conform to Chinese expectations of outward displays of humility and inferiority.16 Their documents for presentation to the Court were poorly drafted and inappropriately signed by the Viceroy of Goa and not the king of Portugal, as Court protocol demanded.17 Furthermore, there was consternation among Court officials when they learned that the Portuguese were not interested in presenting tributes but in trade.18 There was an element of truth in the assertion that the Portuguese did not consider themselves inferior to the Chinese. Judging by their conquests thus far, in Africa, Persia, India, and Malacca, they had every reason to feel otherwise.

Despite the initial setbacks, the Portuguese were able to exploit the fault lines in the power structure along the China coast and succeeded in carving a niche for themselves in China, just as they had done elsewhere.19 In China, as K.C. Fok observed, the Portuguese were fortunate to have arrived at Canton where the local authorities were more lax about trade regulations and more willing to do business with foreigners due to the economic benefits they could derived from it.20 When their position in the province became untenable due to imperial edicts banning them, they found co-operation for their clandestine trade further north in the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang.

If Canton had been geographically closer to Goa, the Portuguese perhaps might have been willing and able to apply additional resources to establish a foothold like it did in Malacca. In China, following the early failures to establish official relations, it was abandoned to the private traders. These traders were generally more willing to compromise so as not to cause trouble for themselves. They had travelled far and taken great risks to build up sufficient capital to trade on their own account, so it was not in their interest to be provocative or territorial. Eventually, against great odds, they succeeded in gaining permission to settle in Macau.

11  Fok, "The Macau Formula".

12  Fei, Macao 400 years, 16.

13  Padre Goncalves, quoted by Boxer, Portuguese Society in the Tropics, 43.

14  De Silva, "Beyond the Cape: The Portuguese encounter with the peoples of South Asia", in Schwartz (ed.), 295-322.

15  Lamas, History of Macau, 10-11.

16  Fok, "Early Ming Images".

17  Coates, A Macao Narrative, 8-9.

18  Fok, "Early Ming Images".

19  In their conquest of Malacca in 1511, the Portuguese were assisted by the Sultanate of Johore. A few years earlier, on the coast of south-western India, when the Samudri Raja of Calicut became hostile, the ruler of Cochin, a hundred miles to the south of Calicut, was more than happy to accommodate the Portuguese traders in his town in anticipation of the wealth and military protection the Portuguese presence might bring.

20  Fok, "The Macau Formula".

Part of the vast Portuguese presence in Asia

By the time the settlement emerged at Macau, the Portuguese empire was already well established. Some scholars consider it misleading to describe it as an empire in the formal sense because of the lack of territorial and political hegemony across such a big stretch of water. According to Villiers, it was best defined as "an enormous commercial network connecting various points at which trading posts (feitorias), fortified strongholds (fortalezas) or, more rarely, fully fledged urban settlements with their own institutions of municipal government (cidades) had been established."21

Across such a vast network, the territories were administered and protected with varying degrees of effectiveness by the Portuguese Crown or on its behalf. In its heyday, the Portuguese empire consisted of approximately fifty such territories, ranging from major settlements like Macau to small river outposts such as Sena on the Zambesi River (in Africa), and large areas such as in Colombo and Goa. They did not include the numerous unofficial settlements that were known to exist in different corners of Portuguese Asia away from the administrative centre of Goa.22 The co-existence of official and unofficial settlements in close proximity to each other was a feature of Portuguese Asia. These unofficial settlements were founded by Portuguese private traders who believed that they should be allowed to pursue private trade and seek their fortune outside of the Crown's trade monopoly. Some of these settlements were neither small nor insignificant with some containing about two to three hundred Portuguese.23 Some had settlers who were influential not only with the settler elite in the official settlements but also directly with Lisbon.24 This loose collection of territories and settlements from Mozambique in East Africa to Macau and Timor was named Estado da India with the administrative capital based at Goa in India.25

21  Villiers, "The Estado da India in Southeast Asia".

22  Sena in 1630 did not even have a fort or cannon. Disney, Twilight of the Pepper Empire, 16.

23  Subrahmanyam, The Portuguese Empire in Asia, 71.

24  Ibid., 89.

25  "Estado da India" = State of India.

Macau's "golden century" (1550s to 1640s)

The first century of the Macau settlement was a prosperous period that had been called the "golden century". Macau could be said to have "struck gold" when it had virtual monopoly on the supply of Chinese silk to the Japanese market in the mid-sixteenth century. Many writers claimed that this trade was the foundation of Macau's wealth. It so impressed an Italian visitor in 1638 that he was moved to remark that Macau could "justly be considered as the best, strongest and most profitable of the Portuguese possessions in the Indies – I having visited the majority of them." 26 This period of prosperity was characterised by the phenomenal growth in settlement, unsettled relations with China, the rise and fall of the Japanese trade and the rise of Dutch power in the Far East which brought about the demise of Portuguese influence in South and Southeast Asia.

This period was characterised by the rapid growth of the settlement and its governing institutions. In 1586 its significance was recognised by the Crown through granting it the status of a city entitled to its own administrative body, the Senate, which was run by the local merchants presided over by a Captain (appointed by Goa) or in his absence the local Bishop.

During this period, their relationship with China was not always smooth. The building of the barrier gate across the narrow isthmus was seen by some as extending de facto recognition to the Portuguese occupation of Macau.27 However, many viewed it as a coercive action that allowed the Chinese to open and shut the gate at will, cutting off supplies of fresh food and labour. It proved so effective in bringing Macau to heel during the early centuries that the Macaenses became known for their compliant and co-operative attitude towards the Chinese.

The latter half of the century saw the emergence of Dutch power in the Far East. The Dutch had used its base in Formosa (Taiwan) to supply Chinese goods to Japan in competition to the Macaenses. Not content with competing on quality and price, the Dutch sought to attack Macau shipping disrupting the supply of goods and capturing their cargoes. In the 1620s and 1630s the Dutch launched a series of attacks on Macau as well as Malacca and Goa and succeeded in cutting Macau off from its vital link to Europe.

26  Lamas, History of Macau, 28.

27  Hsu, The Rise of Modern China, 131.

Rise and demise of the Japan trade

However the most significant feature of this period for Macau was the rise and demise of the Japan trade because its wealth built and sustained Macau for over seven decades. Many writers believed the expulsion of the Jesuits and the Macaense traders from Japan was a loss from which Macau never fully recovered. G. Elison attributed the root cause of the expulsion to the Jesuits' meddling in the internal politics of Japan.28

In 1609, the number of Japanese Christians under the Jesuit umbrella was estimated at 222,000. Following the general persecution of Christians, many fled to Macau. A series of anti-foreign edicts, begun in 1633, restricted Japanese trade and travel overseas, the banning of trade with the Portuguese and expulsion of all Jesuits followers in 1639. The following year, Macau sent another delegation and sixty-one merchants and seamen were executed. Thirteen men were left alive to take the news back to Macau. Japan was left to the Dutch and Chinese merchants who were warned not to provide passage to any missionaries in disguise.29 In subsequent years, another two groups were sent from Macau in an attempt to resurrect the trade but both were sent back unreceived.30

The numbers of Japanese Christians that fled to Macau were sufficiently visible in 1606 to arouse strong anti-Portuguese and anti-Japanese feeling among the Canton authorities who feared an invasion by a combined Portuguese and Japanese force. This fear was fanned by Chinese rumourmongers who pointed to the presence in Macau of Japanese mercenaries and artisans working on the façade of St Paul's Church and the sea walls. Some Chinese believed the sea walls were intended as additional fortresses. The work on the façade of St Paul's Church had begun in 1602 but was not finished until 1640. In that year, Macau proudly boasted its defence capability to the Portuguese King, which included seventy large cannons mounted in four Royal fortresses, metal foundries and gunpowder mills. Macaenses were also confident of marshalling two thousand good musketeers into battle when the need arose.31 According to Monsignor Manuel Teixeira the ruins today are "a relic of that glorious past, ... that filled an important part in Macau's days of prosperity."32

Some might be excused in believing that following the loss of the Japan trade in 1639, Macau subsisted in abject poverty. Apparently that was the picture the Macaense settlers would like to present to the Portuguese Crown but it was far from correct. By 1642, Macau had managed to develop and maintained trading links to other areas, principally Manila, Indochina, Timor and Macassar. Despite the grim prospects, people continued to come from Europe and India to settle, attracted not only by the ready supply of marriage candidates in the form of rich heiresses but also as a convenient refuge from the Inquisition then sweeping through Europe. Many rich wealthy new Christians of Jewish background were said to have found a safe haven in Macau.33

The place had a cosmopolitan flavour. Boxer quoted from various eyewitness accounts to describe the succession of festivities in 1642 to celebrate the restoration of the Portuguese Crown, which lasted for ten weeks. These parades were supported by the local Chinese and Japanese communities. There was a military parade and a lantern procession in which the participants wore national costumes. The black slaves had their procession in colourful outfits while the "local fidalgos vied with each other in the profusion of jewellery and gala clothing". Boxer concluded that it was "not easy to reconcile the lavish display of wealth, which these costly clothes and accoutrements represent, with the loud lamentations of grinding poverty which the Senate of Macao addressed with such monotonous regularity to the King."34

28  Elison, Deus Destroyed, 94-97.

29  Ibid., 193.

30  In 1647 and in 1685. Elison, Deus Destroyed, x-xi.

31  Boxer, Fidalgos in the Far East, 143.

32  Teixeira, "The Japanese in Macau", in Review of Culture No 17, October/December 1993, 154-172.

33  Boxer, Fidalgos in the Far East, 143.

34  Ibid., 148-149.

Century of belt-tightening and decline (1650s to 1750s)

A few weeks after these celebrations, Malacca fell to the Dutch cutting Macau off from its links with Goa and Europe. Following a souring of relations with Spanish-controlled Manila, Macau by the mid-1650s had been relegated to doing marginal business with low profits "competing with Asian merchants ... for shares of Asian markets for Asian goods."35 Dutch aggression heralded a century of decline for the Macaense settlers in Macau. Exacerbated by the wars over dynastic succession in China, Macau's population declined steadily. During the period, the arrival of the British and other foreign traders and China's implementation of the single-port trade system were flickering lights that guided Macau and the Macaenses through the periods of depression and despair.

Between the 1650s and 1670s, the dynastic wars between the declining Mings and the conquering Qings threatened Macau's existence even though the Macaenses discreetly supported both sides of the conflict. The succession struggle made trade, what was left of it, impossible due to the Qing policy of forceful evacuation of coastal settlements. The exemption for Macau to be excluded from the general evacuation was seen as the outcome of successful lobbying by the Beijing Jesuits.

35  Wills, "After the Fall – Macau's Strategies for Survival".

Decline of the Portuguese empire

Elsewhere in the Portuguese empire, the Dutch blockade of Goa and their attack on Portuguese ships had taken its toll. In 1641, the Dutch captured Malacca and the Moluccan spice trade. The loss of Malacca virtually made the adjacent waterways impassable for Portuguese shipping unless they were very small vessels, or disguised as local indigenous shipping or English ships under charter to Portuguese interests.

The use of English ships provided some respite for Macau's trade. As early as 1635, the Portuguese viceroy Linhares had seized an opportunity to sign a truce with the English East India Company and small scale trade resumed between Goa and Macau using English ships. Although the Dutch did not attack English ships, it did continue its attacks and blockades against Portuguese territories.

Peace with the Dutch did not come until 1663 by which time Cochin, Malacca, Ceylon had fallen to the Dutch.36 By then, Portuguese India had also lost most of its citadels on the southern coast of Malabar, not only to the Dutch but also to hostile local rulers and the pirates of Malabar. Coupled with the succession wars between remnants of the Ming forces and the new Qing dynasty, the Macaenses in Macau succumbed to a period of lingering poverty and civil anarchy.37 As trade declined, the Senate of Macau was unable to raise sufficient income to cover its operating expenses and had to resort to borrowing from other Asian rulers to finance its obligations.38

36  Boxer credited the Dutch success against the Portuguese to their superior economic resources, superior manpower and superior sea power. Boxer, Four centuries of Portuguese expansion, 53.

37  Coates, A Macau Narrative, 62.

38  Boxer, Portuguese Society in the Tropics, 55.

Arrival of the British, 1635

The first British ship, the London, arrived in Macau in 1635 under charter to the Portuguese authorities in Goa. For allowing the British to come and land, Macau incurred the wrath of the Chinese and was fined. When they refused to pay, all Chinese were ordered out and an embargo was imposed at the barrier gate. Two years later, another four English ships under the command of Captain John Weddell arrived for their first trading voyage. Impatient to wait for permission to proceed, they forced their way up the Pearl River meeting strong opposition along the way. They were forced back and although allowed to do some trade in Macau the voyage was not a success.39 It would be several decades before the English were allowed into Canton again. Meanwhile, the English traded where they could, especially in Taiwan and in Fujian province until it was abandoned due to attacks by the Qings against the remnants of the Ming forces there.

An important aspect of the visit of Captain Weddell's fleet was the presence of Peter Mundy. Mundy provided us with a description of Macaense society and wrote glowingly about the "pretty features and complexion" of the Eurasian daughters of the Macaense settlers and their expensive costumes and clothing.40 Mundy also depicted the distinct dress of the Macaense women when they ventured outside. His drawing of the dress, believed to be of Malay origin, was seized upon by some as a significant point in the debate over the ethnic origins of the early Macaense community.41

During this period, a major development occurred that had serious ramifications for the Macaenses. Following the defeat of the Mings, the Qing Emperor Kangxi (r1661 - 1722) lifted the ban on foreign trade in 1685. He ordered the opening of customs houses in four coastal provinces including Guangdong. This Imperial Edict was seen as an outcome of lobbying by the head of the Beijing Jesuits Father Ferdinand Verbiest who wanted more French priests to come directly to China without having to go through Lisbon or Macau.42 This edict caused trade to bypass Macau although it remained a frequent port of call for English and French ships on their way to Canton, Ningpo and Amoy. From 1700 to 1750 there was a steady decline in Macau's trade except for a brief period of prosperity between 1719 and 1725. The economic hardship caused an initial decline in the Macaense population as many Macaenses sought opportunities elsewhere, creating a shortage of suitably qualified persons for important positions of the various colonial institutions. The shortage of men during the eighteenth century gave Macau a reputation as "a city of women" because out of the total Christian population of 19,500 from 150 Portuguese families, over eighty percent (16,000) were women.43

The opening of these ports also had undesirable social ramifications as European traders and adventurers flocked to them. Alarmed at the behaviour of the Europeans at these ports, the Qings feared that social upheaval would result from the disorderly conduct of the foreign sailors.44 The Court feared for dynastic security, that those unruly little ports were becoming like Macau.45 These concerns, coupled with the earnest petitions from the Canton authorities, prompted a return to the one-port system of trade in 1759 for Canton's business had declined due to competition, predominantly from Ningbo.

Before the decision was made, two opportunities were offered to Macau to become the sole port for foreign trade but the Senate in Macau, under the control of the Macaenses traders, was unable to gain simultaneous acceptance of the idea by the Bishop of Macau and the Viceroy of Goa.46

The one-port system of trade forced foreign traders in Canton to reside in a special enclave for the duration of the trading season. They had to comply with various regulations designed to restrict their interactions with the surrounding populace and to prevent permanent settlement. These regulations were to have profound practical implications for the Macaenses in Macau for the following decades.

39  Coates, Prelude to Hong Kong, 1-27.

40  Teixeira, "The origin of the Macanese", in Review of Culture No 20, 1994, 158-159.

41  Boxer, Women in Iberian Expansion Overseas, 85-86.

42  Coates, Prelude to Hong Kong, 32.

43  Boxer, Portuguese Society in the Tropics, 61-63.

44  Coates, Prelude to Hong Kong, 36-47.

45  Hsu, The Rise of Modern China, 189-192.

46  Coates, Prelude to Hong Kong, 41-48.

Century of rejuvenation (1750s to 1842)

The return to the one-port system of trade with its attendant regulations favoured the Macaenses in Macau as well as restoring Canton as the premier port, even though its charges were higher than others and it had a reputation as "tradition-bound and corruption-ridden".47 Canton had, for centuries, been a major centre for China's foreign trade, especially with the countries of Southeast Asia. Through Canton, the system of tributary trade entered China and proceeded north via the internal carriageway of the Grand Canal. Canton and Macau experienced economic rejuvenation and in the process regained their pre-eminent place as the main interchange for China's relations with the Western powers. It remained so until the outbreak of the Opium War (1839-1842).

47  Hsu, The Rise of Modern China, 190.

The Canton factory system

The system by which foreigners were allowed to trade and reside in Canton had evolved over the years. By the 1730s, foreign trading companies were permitted to leave a few men behind in Canton after the trading season had ended. As trade grew, warehouses and living quarters were built within the cramped waterfront area and rented out to different foreign companies by select Chinese merchants known as the hong. Under Emperor Qianlong (r 1736-1795), the system was refined with highly restrictive regulations aimed at close supervision of trade and preventing permanent settlement. In particular, it imposed two requirements: compulsory departure at the end of each trading season and the prohibition of foreign women. These conditions shaped the nature of Macau's existence for the next century since those who had wives and children with them in China must leave them at Macau. In Canton, Macaense men made their careers by assisting the newcomers with their business dealings and in Macau, their families provided lodging and rental properties for them and their companies.

Many trading companies, private traders and adventurers of various nationalities flocked to the China coast, but it was the British that made the most impact. The British East India Company concentrated mainly on tea for Europe while British private traders, some of whom were former company employees, were particularly entrenched in handling Asian products such as Indian cotton, pepper and opium in competition to the Macaense traders. These two British groups had close ties through their informal banking arrangements, with the companies acting as agents for handling the excess currency (silver) for the private traders. Tensions between the two groups were not uncommon particularly when the private trade grew to account for one third of all foreign shipping to Canton in the mid-1770s. To seek protection from the British East India Company, the defacto British authority on the China coast, certain British private traders ingeniously obtained appointments as consular representatives or became citizens of other European nations. The British trader, Daniel Beale obtained appointment as the Prussian Consul and flew the Prussian flag in Canton in 1787. In reality his business was trading in opium. His partner J. H. Cox was forced to leave Canton by the British hierarchy but later returned as a Swedish citizen. Another trader David Reid took out Danish nationality while others came under the protection of Portugal, Poland and the Republic of Genoa. As official representatives of these various countries, they descended upon Macau at the close of the trading season with due pomp and ceremony adding to its cosmopolitan flavour.48

48  Coates, Prelude to Hong Kong, 71-74.

Consequences for Macau and the Macaenses

Macau became rejuvenated as the Macaenses adapted themselves to service the needs of newcomers from other nations. Foreign merchants took to Macau to establish their summer residences when the trading season ended. The trading companies did not establish offices in Macau until 1761 when French and Dutch trading companies came, followed closely by the Danish and Swedish companies. Not until 1773 did the British East India Company establish itself in Macau and rented the first of several premises.49 The Americans arrived in 1784.

The Macau Senate, controlled by the Macaenses, was successful in obtaining permission from Goa to allow other nationalities to trade and reside in Macau much to the annoyance of the religious authorities who were concerned with the onset of moral laxity. The Macaenses were allowed to rent flats to foreigners and act as intermediaries between the Europeans and the Chinese however there was little social contact between the Macaenses and the foreigners – demarcated as they were by race, language and religion.50 This lack of social interaction was to become a familiar feature of the Macaense communities in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the early days, eventhough language had ceased to be an issue by then.

As the British settlers arrived with their wives, the social life and demographics of Macau changed dramatically. In Macau in 1830, foreign white females outnumbered foreign white males by the order of two to one.51 By the 1830s, there were already major independent traders such as Jardine Matheson, American traders like Russell & Co. and Dent & Co who later played a major role in the founding of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank.52 According to Coates, these sets of circumstances opened the way to an era of prosperity for the Portuguese settlement, becoming a cosmopolitan centre – in effect "the outpost of all Europe in China".53

By the time of the Opium War (1839-1842), the foreign enclave in Canton consisted of thirteen rows of buildings, rented from Chinese merchants licensed by the provincial government to deal with foreigners. In these thirteen buildings, they ate, lived and stored their merchandise for trade. Into this small area crowded 307 foreigners: Macaenses, British, Americans, French, Austrians, Dutch, Spaniards, Swiss, Danes, Indians and Parsees.54

The foreign community had many facilities there. They published their own weekly newspapers. There were two hotels, a small chapel with seating capacity for one hundred persons, a doctor, medical dispensary and a twice-weekly mail service to Macau. Sometimes a band on board a visiting ship provided the occasional Western music and entertainment to supplement those that were readily available from its Chinese surroundings.55

Despite all these facilities, the British in the main found life in Canton too restrictive, frustrating and insecure. Others believed the British were generally exaggerating the difficulties. One American William C. Hunter wrote that despite the regulations, they could do almost anything they wished except to bring foreign women into the enclave.56 Another young American prepared himself for a long stay by having amongst his personal inventory: thirty knives and forks, thirty glasses and decanters, shaving kit and mixed colognes, mirror, soap and candles, hat and spyglass, framed pictures, a gun and sword, 542 bottles of wine and fifty pounds of cigars.57 It appeared that life in the Canton factories was a matter of adapting oneself to the peculiar environment and surrounding oneself with as much home comfort as possible.

Macaense influences were pervasive in Canton. The brightly coloured head scarves worn by some women on the boats soliciting for laundry and other services, reminded the foreign men very much of Macau.58 Macau was their main link to the world beyond, the only reliable link besides their company ships. Pervasive, too, was the daily grappling with pidgin English, a hybrid language consisting of Portuguese, Indian, English and various Chinese dialects, which was shared by nearly all who lived and worked in the foreign enclave.59

The dominant foreign traders were the British, especially the British East India Company. At the peak of its power and influence in the 1810s and 1820s, the company went about its business with great zeal and dedication. In the Canton factories, they had a dozen or so young men from England studying the Chinese language under Robert Morrison, who had studied Chinese in Macau and translated the Bible into Chinese there. Through these linguists, the company had hoped to understand Chinese Governmental regulations more adequately and to translate English documents into Chinese. On their premises in Canton they had a library of 4,000 books, many of them in Chinese.60 As a result of the debate over free trade, the British government terminated the company's monopoly in 1834 thereby intensifying the competitiveness among the China traders.

Such was the atmosphere in Canton around the time of the Opium War (1839 - 1842). With minimal foreign supervision and rising tensions between the traders and the Chinese authorities over the importation of opium and other aggravations, Canton became the battleground for the fighting between the Chinese forces and the British who were supported a fleet of ships sent by respective governments. It was generally accepted that although the Macaenses sympathised with the British, they nevertheless wished to appear neutral. In reality, within the confines of Macau, they actively supported the British. As the relationship between the British and Chinese deteriorated over the suppression of the opium trade, the Macaenses provided a place for some British traders to continue their business and a haven for British personnel and their property. The Macaenses served the British in various capacities, as clerks and copyists, interpreters and translators.61 As hostilities escalated, the Chinese stopped the supply of food to British residences in Macau and ordered the withdrawal of their Chinese servants. In such an eventuality, the Macaenses made sure that the British homes and British ships were able to obtain the necessary provisions to survive. Without Chinese servants, the Macaenses helped out domestically as well.62 Although the Opium War never really came to Macau, its impact was felt deeply.

Ibid., 60-64.

50  Lamas, History of Macau, 57.

51  Hsu, The Rise of Modern China, 202.

52  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 81.

53  Coates, A Macao Narrative, 63.

54  Spence, God's Chinese Son, p 4.

55  Ibid., 4-8.

56  Coates, Prelude to Hong Kong, 144-147.

57  Spence, God's Chinese Son, 5.

58  Ibid., 15.

59  Ibid., 3-13.

61  Ibid., 7.

61  Ibid., 75.

62  Ibid., 108-109.

The Opium War 1839-1842 (impact on Macau)

Confronted with the end of the one-port system of trade by which the Macaenses derived a reasonably secured existence as landlords, service providers and employees, the aftermath of the Opium War began a period of painful adjustment as foreign companies deserted Macau for other ports. Many Macaense families were faced with the dilemma of what to do; whether to stay or to follow. For some the new multiple-port system represented growth opportunities, but for many it was also a matter of survival as unemployment and lack of prospects loomed for those who remained. Like their forefathers, many Macaenses made themselves mobile and faced the uncertainties for the sake of themselves and their families.

The period between 1839 and 1848 was grim. "Macao, a piece of flotsam" was how one anonymous writer described the place:

No longer ships crowd her harbour – no more is there a brisk trade in her marts; her day as an honest trader is gone and the reason for her existence has long since ceased. ... Macao deserted by legitimate commerce, has become the home of gambling, opium, and prostitution. Upon these vices Macao flourishes.63

The Opium War marked the turning point in China's relations with the West as the balance of military might tilted heavily against her and the Western powers increasingly ganged up against her over trading and territorial rights. The Treaty of Nanjing that ended the war in 1842 ushered in this new period of Western dominance in China. This period, the "treaty century", lasted approximately one hundred years, which many Chinese called a century of foreign imperialism and national humiliation. Its impact on China was so traumatic that the effects were felt until the end of the twentieth century. Specifically Hong Kong was ceded to the British as part of the reparations extracted from China. The treaty also provided for other Chinese ports to be opened to foreign trade. In the process, it triggered a scramble by other Western powers to conclude their own treaties with China, including the United States, France, Germany, Portugal and Japan. These various treaties, called the "unequal treaties" by the Chinese, provided the framework for western interaction with China over the next century.

The twentieth century hegemony of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region could be said to have its origins in the aftermath of the Treaty of Nanjing. Buoyed by the success of Commodore Perry in forcing the opening of Japan, the United States appeared to embark on "an exercise in imperial adventure" in order to prevent a carve up of China by the other nations, principally Great Britain, France and Germany.64 More importantly, the United States was responsible for that peculiar feature of treaty-port life: the principle of extra-territoriality. The Sino-U.S. treaty of Wangxia of July 1844 contained a special clause providing for American consular jurisdiction over its citizens in any part of China, a privilege that was later assumed by all foreign nations in China. Among the implications that flowed from the principle of extra-territoriality was the notion that foreigners were not subject to Chinese laws; that they could only be tried in their own courts by their own consuls according to the laws of their own country. They could land and stationed troops at the foreign settlements inside the treaty ports. If they were so inclined, as at Shanghai, they could implement de facto self government not only from the Chinese authorities but also from their own home governments to a certain extent.

63  The China Truth, 22 June 1929, BMC- NLA, MS4300, Box 12, Envelope. 1.

64  Rand, China Hands, 23.


The fatal official Portuguese mission to China led by Thome Pires in 1517, their deaths in custody, followed by the subsequent expulsion of the Portuguese ships and the ban against Portuguese traders, were not auspicious beginnings for Sino-Portuguese relations. From such shaky foundations and decades of informal settlement on the China coast, the Portuguese eventually were allowed to settle in Macau. It might seemed mere tokenism or plain expedience that China allowed Portugal to be the last European power to yield its administration of a Chinese territory; however it could also be viewed as an honour accorded to Portugal and specifically to Macau, in recognition of its successful and unobtrusive co-existence over such a long period of time.

The arrival of the Portuguese ushered in a new period in East-West relations. It had been observed that informal contacts had existed between Europe and China since the days of the Roman Empire and its Chinese counterpart, the Han Dynasty (202 BC - AD 220), but those contacts were sporadic and did not bring about the monumental changes that resulted from sustained impact. These changes only occurred with the arrival of the Portuguese who paved the way for other European powers in later centuries. Because of Macau and the Macaenses and the varied influences that came in their wake, China was to change like never before.65

There were many clichés and stereotype images of Macau but none more enduring than the phrase "East meets West". Jack Braga was fond of that phrase during his journalistic days. Amongst his papers at the National Library of Australia, he scribbled what appeared to be the beginning of an article:

At Macao, East has met West for four hundred years, in spite of what Kipling says, and has China not had the better of the bargain? 'In Macao, one finds Portugal drugged, asleep in China's arms', wrote some woman not long ago. An unkind cut that, but oh! How true!66

At different stages during the first three centuries, the Macaense community displayed entrepreneurial skills as risk takers and risk managers. Initially they invested heavily in voyages from China to Japan and elsewhere. Without any formal agreement, they built grand edifices and infrastructure knowing they were always at the mercy and whim of the local Chinese authorities. Utilising their cultural skills, they dealt with the Chinese with tact and sensitivity such that during the first two centuries, the Chinese would deal with other Westerners only with the Macaenses as intermediaries. They formed alliances with the local provincial authorities to procure Chinese goods and sold those goods in Japan in partnership with the Jesuits and with the blessings of the feudal lords. The Macaenses were astute to interpret the winds of change. At the dawn of each new era, whether it was the demise of the Portuguese empire, the fall of the Ming dynasty or the emergence of the English as the major power, in order to survive, the Macaense community had to adapt themselves to new sets of circumstances even if it meant learning new skills or relocating to new places. These characteristics became even more important in the treaty century, the focus for our next two chapters.

65  Hsu, The Rise of Modern China, 130.

66  BMC-NLA, MS4300, Box 12, Envelope 1. The woman was Stella Benson (1892-1933), a novelist and China resident. From her book of travel essays, The Little World, published by Macmillan. There were several references to Stella Benson in Bickers' Britain in China.


Macaense communities in China

- Macau, Shanghai, Shantou and Shameen -
From the Opium War to the Cold War (1842 - 1952)

Treaty aftermath – a survey of the early decades

The Opium War (1839 - 1842) marked the beginning of a significant period in modern Chinese history. Indeed, in the context of China's relations with the West, it would be difficult to find a more defining moment. Perhaps the first arrival of the Portuguese on the China coast and the influences that came in their wake might be considered comparable in the enormity of its impact. The defeat of Chinese forces by the British and China's subsequent defeats at the hands of other Western nations left deep lingering scars upon the Chinese national psyche which could not be so easily healed.1 For the Macaense community in Macau, the inauguration of the new treaty ports sent shock waves throughout the whole community and provided the greatest challenge to date in their centuries old history on the China coast. In the aftermath of the Treaty of Nanjing it became quite evident that as one by one the foreign traders re-located elsewhere, the dilemma for the Macaenses and their families was profound. In the next three chapters, we traced the evolution of this community, how they adapted to the new realities, how they joined the other foreigners in various parts of China and in the process seeded the Macaense communities there. They thrived with varying degrees of sophistication contributing to the social and commercial life of those foreign settlements before their eventual retreat following the Communist victory in 1949.

1  Chinese feelings of historical injustice at the hands of Western powers were revived when protesters in Hong Kong tried to stop the auction of two cultural relics looted from the Summer Palace in Beijing. South China Morning Post, 1 May 2000.


Canton, the focal point of the fighting during the Opium War, was razed to the ground and abandoned by foreign traders who retreated to the relative safety of Macau. At the conclusion of the war, some foreign traders returned there but the majority began setting up branches in Hong Kong, Shanghai and other newly opened ports (treaty ports). In 1857, following another round of fighting, the Anglo-French force finally re-captured Canton and it was decided to rebuild the foreign enclave at a new location about half a mile upriver from the old factory premises. An artificial island was created upon the sand flats to act as the foreign settlement. It was called Shameen according to the local Cantonese dialect. Shameen comprised the British and French concessions encompassing an original area of 1,000 ft by 300 ft and was linked to the Chinese city via two bridges.2

Soon the firms and consulates returned and it became almost mandatory for the larger firms to have a branch in Shameen as part of their network of offices around China.

2  Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 19-22.


For the Macaense community in Macau, the loss (to the newer ports) of its capable and mostly younger generation had profound implications for the Portuguese enclave. In the census of 1896, one could almost hear the stampede of Macaenses' feet as they headed for distant shores. The 1896 Macau census figures were contained in the publication Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai and other Treaty Ports, which was a monumental survey of the treaty port world at the height of the British imperial experience at the turn of the twentieth century.3 Covering 850 pages, it contained a segment on Macau contributed by the renowned Macaense educator, Pedro Nolasco da Silva. Born in Macau in 1842, da Silva was a teacher of Chinese at St Joseph's Seminary College at the time when he contributed the article.4

He included the following figures from the 1896 census in Macau:

The number of inhabited dwellings was 7,190. Population totalled 78,616 broke down as follows:

 Portuguese Chinese Foreigners
Macau city 3,806 61,755 161
Taipa & Coloane 92 12,802 Nil
Totals: 3,898 74,557 161

Source: A. Wright (ed): Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai and other Treaty Ports, London, 1908.

The exodus of Macaenses from Macau was graphically illustrated by the numbers of Portuguese recorded as having emigrated to other Far Eastern ports: to Hongkong 1309, Canton 68, Foochow 13, Shanghai 738, Singapore 71, Surabaya 3, Yokohama 88, Nagasaki 10 and Bangkok 71, giving a total of 2,371 persons. This represented some sixty per cent of the total Portuguese population. We do not know for sure whether the numbers of the Portuguese garrison were included in the census. It was likely that they were and if their numbers were deducted from the Portuguese segment of the statistics, the percentage would be much higher.5 Although care should be exercised in the interpretation of these figures due to the lack of information concerning the nature of the relevant census questions and the lack of comparable data over a relevant period of time, nevertheless, it could be safely concluded that a major proportion of the population did leave Macau and that they dispersed to a vast geographical area.

According to Da Silva, the public and private buildings in Macau were gaily painted, the principal streets were lit by electricity while the minor streets were lit with "petroleum" but the signs of decline could be seen in that the city had "lately become a retreat for invalids and businessmen from adjacent ports". There were three comfortable hotels: Boa Vista, the Macao and the Oriental; two clubs: Club de Macau (for civilian) and Grêmio Militar for the military, and two hospitals: one military, the other civilian.6

Another visible sign of Macau's decline in importance could be seen in another area. At the time of the Opium War, Macau was the main contact with the outside world for traders located in Canton and other ports. Half a century later, it had lost its paramount importance as the main contact with the outside world. It had to rely on Hong Kong instead, being connected via the telegraph while a ferry service departed Macau for Hong Kong and Canton twice a day.

For the Macaenses, with the exception of one school and the Chinese schools, the tuition was all in Portuguese. Regarding education facilities, the main European schools were listed as St Joseph's Seminary College, the Lyceum of Macao, the Central Schools, the College de Santa Rosa de Lima, the English Commercial School and a school to teach Portuguese to Chinese boys.7

Not only was there a major shift in the population profile, the economy of Macau at the beginning of the twentieth century had contracted and became overly reliant on gambling and opium. Government revenue for the year 1907-1908 was budgeted at 1,397,988 Mexican dollars broke down as under:8

Fantan gambling$ 456,400 (33%) 
Opium $ 334,000 (23%)  
Lotteries $ 222,000 (16%)  
Other taxes and duties $ 385,588 (28%) Included Santa Casa lottery as "duties"

Source: A. Wright (ed): Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai and other Treaty Ports, London, 1908.

The reliance on the promotion of social vices for much of its revenue was one reason behind many of the stereotype image of Macau during the period. When da Silva described Macau as a city for tired businessmen and convalescents, he was expressing similar sentiments as an article that appeared five years earlier in a Hong Kong newspaper which described Macao to be fit only as a place of rest:

Crossing from Hong Kong to Macao is like crossing from London ... to some sleepy continental town. ... Everybody is at rest – except the sun, and one could wish he did not keep such long office hours. The post office is closed except for two short intervals daily. Money cannot be drawn. It is one long Bank Holiday. ... I do not know when Macao flung away ambition, but it was once the Open Door to China, and now it leads to nowhere. ... I think you will hardly find a more pleasant bund in the Far East than the Praia Grande. On that wide, well swept esplanade, shaded by wind-bent trees, there is actually room for you. [To enjoy Macao] one must value its want of variety, and revel in its poverty of resources. There are thoughts within us unopened and books belonging to us unread. There are daydreams all unfinished. Let us enjoy ourselves.9

To be fair, Macau did not fling away its ambitions as the writer above had suggested above but the stereotypical images stuck as gambling, opium and prostitution became the mainstay of its economy.

Beside the vices referred to above, Macau was also criticised for its participation in the controversial trade in coolies to the plantations of South and Central America. This trade had begun in the decade following the Opium War and coolies were sent not only from Macau but also from Hong Kong, Amoy and Swatow. By the time the trade was stopped in 1875, an estimated 500,000 Chinese coolies had already made their way abroad but only fewer than 120,000 were sent via Macau.10

A significant achievement was the Sino-Portuguese Treaty of 1887 that put an end to speculation about its status. Armando M. da Silva wrote that the Opium Wars and the Taiping rebellion had weakened the Qing dynasty and "it did not take long for the Crown of Portugal to take notice of China's vulnerability."11 On 26 March 1887, agreement was reached in Lisbon between Sir Robert Hart of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs and Portugal in which China recognised Macau as Portuguese territory. It was most fitting that after two centuries in which the Macaenses had helped the British in their trade with China, a British civil servant representing the Chinese government would be the instrument by which the Macaenses achieved their greatest dream – formal security of tenure in Macau. Soon after the Treaty of 1887, plans were initiated to improve the harbour that had been silted up by centuries of erosion. The aim was to provide a deep harbour facility for the new bigger ships plying the China trade in the hope of trying to restore Macau to at least some of its old commercial prosperity. At the end of the nineteenth century, major infrastructure works were in progress including reclamation of the foreshore, construction of a new main road that would link the ferry terminal in the inner harbour to the Praia Grande and sewerage works with new sewers being constructed and old ones enlarged.12

3  Wright, A. (ed.), Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai and other Treaty Ports, (London, Lloyd's, 1908).

4  Da Silva, "Macau", in Wright (ed.).

5  In the treaty ports, the Chinese from Macau could be registered with the Portuguese consulate for the purposes of consular protection but in Macau, they were not considered as Portuguese while the Macaenses were. So the figures given in the census could be taken as Macaenses who left Macau for other ports in the course of trade or employment.

6  Da Silva, "Macau", in Wright (ed.).

7  Ibid.

8  Ibid.

9  The Hongkong Telegraph, 9 July 1901, BMC-NLA, MS4300, BOX 1, BRA/3985.

10  Ibid., 41.

11  Spence, God's Chinese son, 309.

12  Ibid., 308-310.


No place in China, not even Hong Kong, could compare with Shanghai's spectacular growth in the early decades of the Treaty Century. Long before Shanghai became the most important treaty port, its potential was already recognised in 1832 when the East India Company despatched a reconnaissance mission from Macau. According to a contemporary account published in 1836, the Company's representative confirmed that rumours of Shanghai's importance were no exaggeration judging from the "numerous junks of every size and shape ... and the spacious wharfs (sic) and warehouses".13 It was not surprising then that the British included Shanghai in the list of ports to be opened to foreign trade in the Treaty of Nanjing of 1842.

In the first year of the port's opening, the foreign community consisted of twenty-three foreigners representing eleven mercantile firms. By 1848, these numbers had grown to over a hundred residents and the number of firms to about thirty. The residents included a few women and the firms were mostly branches of the old Canton firms. Sometimes there were two to three hundred ships anchored in front of the settlement representing a "forest of masts" to sightseers.14

The Macaense historian and resident of Shanghai, Montalto de Jesus described the business environment of the early days in his Historic Shanghai (1909):

Those were the days of romance and of true oriental magnificence in commercial life, without the tell-tale telegraph, ... when foreign merchants knew how to maintain a solidarity among themselves which was something to be reckoned with by native merchants, [when] bullion poured out of its boxes, for bank-notes were then not in vogue and the merchant princes were their own bankers.15

In 1848, the Franco-Chinese Treaty was signed and the French Concession was established. Bishop Boone also founded the American settlement in 1848 north of Suzhou Creek.16 Unlike the French and British areas, this area was never officially conceded to the Americans. Nevertheless, their ships and merchants came for trade and their missionaries came to spread the Christian religion in the largest mission field in the world. In 1863, the American sector was joined to the British to form the International Settlement and together with the French Concession and the Chinese controlled section, this made up the city of Shanghai.

In June 1862, Japan joined the scramble for China when its ship Zensai Maru appeared in Shanghai with some government officials and "a cargo of sundries" to explore trading opportunities directly with the Chinese.17 From then on, it was not long before the Japanese community became the largest in Shanghai.

By 1863, Shanghai enjoyed rapid growth and economic prosperity being the centre for trade in opium, tea, silk and military weapons. Luxury hotels had been built with top class restaurants, billiard rooms and even a ten-pin bowling alley. There was also the Sea Horse Floating Hotel that catered to permanent and casual guests and even the racecourse had been expanded.18 However nothing demonstrated Shanghai's prosperity more than the constant need for expansion. In 1899, new boundaries were agreed to that resulted in a trebling of the Settlement's area to 8.35 square miles. The foreign population at this stage totalled about fifteen thousand, including a large number of Japanese.19

The phenomenal growth of the foreign concessions in Shanghai was replicated in smaller scale across China. Besides Canton and Shanghai, the first group of treaty ports also included Ningbo, Fuzhou and Xiamen, all on the eastern seaboard. In a relatively short period of time, the Western powers were able to force additional ports to be opened such as Tianjin, Dalian and Shantou on the coast and inland river ports like Hankou, Suzhou, Wuzhou, Jiujiang and Zhenjiang. Some of these ports were more developed than others with their own international settlements or foreign concessions modelled on Shanghai's. At all these smaller ports, called "outports" by the British, the foreigners generally lived together in compounds reserved for them while the missionaries tended to live amongst the indigenous community. Near some of these ports, there were hill stations and resorts to which the foreign community would escape in the summer months. The most famous of these was Beidaihe near Tianjin.20

13  C.A. Montalto de Jesus, Historic Shanghai, 248 Note.

14  Bickers, Britain in China, 11.

15  Gunn, Encountering Macau, 95.

16  Ibid., 41.

17  Spence, God's Chinese son, 309.

18  Ibid., 308-310.

19  C.A. Montalto de Jesus, Historic Shanghai, 248 Note.

20  Bickers, Britain in China, 11.

Macaense communities in China


As these foreign settlements and outports enticed the Macaenses from Macau, she received a big jolt in 1910 when the Portuguese royal family was overthrown and a republic was proclaimed in Lisbon. Although the republic was greeted enthusiastically in Portugal, in Macau it exposed serious divisions amongst the soldiers and citizenry leading to protest marches and demonstrations that resulted in the resignation of Governor E. A. Marques (1909-1910).21 At the same time, China itself was in the throes of revolution but the fall of the Qing dynasty one year later did not cause nearly as much concern.

More serious for the Macaenses in Macau were the outpourings of resurgent nationalism that followed in the wake of the May Fourth (1919) demonstrations in Tienanmen Square, Beijing, when three thousand students protested the decision reached at the Paris Peace conference to grant Japan control over the former German colonies in China.22 This was despite the fact that China had sided with the Allies during the war and had sent several hundred thousand men to keep the factories operating and to dig trenches on the battlefields.23 In Macau on 28 May 1922 rioting erupted when Portuguese soldiers fired on a crowd that had gathered to intervene on behalf of a Chinese woman allegedly molested by a black soldier.24 Other riots and strikes were to follow, mirroring the other ports where nationalist sentiments were running high.

Compared to Hong Kong and Shanghai, Macau was considered backward, despite schemes to improve its infrastructure through the dredging of its harbour and land reclamations. Manufacturing industries during the first three decades of the twentieth century remain confined mainly to traditional activities, such as firecrackers, incense, matches and fish products. In 1930, fish products made up 25 percent of total exports and were the largest employer of labour in the colony so that it was not inaccurate to describe Macau before World War II as a large fishing village.25 In 1930, government revenue continued to rely heavily on gambling (50.6 percent) and opium (18.4 percent) prompting a writer to label Macau as the 'City of Super Sin'.26 Those writers not wishing to be moralistic generally described the place as not having much future as this April 1927 article had stated:

There is no future for Macao such as the early explorers and poets dreamed of. Her harbour is silted with mud. Already the island has been joined to the mainland by mud banks. The beaches are spoiled. The houses are empty: street after street is laid out where no houses stand. ... A place of rest and reflection is Macao: of ruined walls, sandbanks, tottering churches, abandoned houses, priests and beggars. Decay and dreams!27

Despondent about the lack of a future, Macaenses in Macau for a time found a champion in Montalto de Jesus with the publication of the second edition of his Historic Macau in 1926. Montalto laid the blame for Macau's lack of economic progress on the Macau authorities and the Portuguese Government. According to Montalto, even minor positions were "usually assigned to incompetent, wretched proteges sent from Portugal" despite the local experience of the Macaenses.28 Not only were they incompetent, they were a financial drain.29 Of greater concern to Montalto was that the lack of opportunities in Macau forced many Macaneses to emigrate in search of a living. He claimed that Portugal had alienated the Macaenses to such an extent that they "would only feel glad if some day Macao were to pass into the hands of some great colonial power."30

Understandably, this drew strong condemnation from the Macau authorities but it struck a sympathetic chord with segments of the Macaense community. Unable to attack the government within Macau, some resorted to attack it from bases off-shore. On 24 August 1929, a Canton newspaper published an article from an anonymous contributor entitled "Macaenses have no show in Macao". The article revealed a high level of frustration. Echoing Montalto's complaints, it decried the lack of provisions for the Macaenses and raised the slogan: "Macau for the Macaenses!" It depaired that "the sons of Macao are despoiled even of their birth right from earning a living in the land that gave them birth."31

This controversial publication was declared illegal and confiscated by the Macau Government. The Macau police raided the printing office where the books were stored, the author's house and several private residences, confiscating about 500 copies of the book.32 Montalto de Jesus was charged with treason for suggesting that Macau should be placed under the administration of the League of Nations because, according to him, Portugal and the Macau authorities had reduced Macau to "an insignificant colony, lifeless, parasitic in that it exists only on the profits from the two vices of the Chinese."33 He appealed against the confiscation and lost. On 10 April 1928 the South China Morning Post reported that Montalto de Jesus was sentenced to forty days imprisonment with the option of a fine.

Jack Braga appealed to Macaenses in other places to help Montalto to pay the fine and keep him out of jail. According to Monsignor Manuel Teixeira, Jack Braga was responsible for the 1926 edition. Indeed amongst the Braga Manuscripts in the National Library of Australia, there is much evidence to support this including hand-written sonnets by Montalto intended for inclusion in a future third edition, burnt fragments of the second edition in a small envelope and a copy of the controversial second edition that carried Jack Braga's hand-written inscription inside the front cover, as follows:

This book contains some annotations made by myself, together with a number of transcriptions of additions which Montalto de Jesus prepared for an intended third edition of Historic Macao. These additions must be considered in the light of the bitterness felt by Montalto de Jesus after the suppression of the second edition of the book.34

Montalto de Jesus died penniless and was forgotten, but according to Monsignor Teixeira "Macau has a debt to pay to Montalto and Braga, two great historians and two sons of the city."35

Other writers such as the Hong Kong-based Stella Benson preferred to focus on less weighty matters with regard to Macau. She marvelled at the ethnicity of the Macaenses when she wrote: "The more Portuguese the dancers looked the more gracefully they danced, but a Portuguese look in Macau is no proof of a Portuguese pedigree."36 Benson also described Macau's unforgetable jazz clubs, its progressive Chinese millionaires, and its yesterdays:

Macao will always remain most graciously enthroned in the memory as a place of Yesterday. The Yesterday is very old, and, like an ancient tapestry, woven of various threads. There is the Portuguese Yesterday, enshrined in the burnt cathedral, in the miracles, in the old churches and monastries, in the old gnarled avenues. [There is] an English Yesterday in the very sentimental old graveyard of the East India Company with well known English names – the names of soldiers and sailors killed a century ago in early Cantonese wars, the names of early English missionaries and traders, ... the names of English women and English babies who died in large numbers in this alien air, [The] Chinese Yesterdays sleep in the old crumbled walls of Macao, [in] Chinese temples [where] men and women of latin-seeming faces bow before Kwan-yin.37

The constant criticism of its reliance on gambling and other social vices did not deter the Macau authorities. Perhaps it was necessary for places like Monte Carlo and Las Vegas to gain universal acceptance before people could recognise how innovative Macau had been in managing to survive on such a flimsy economic base. Tourism, entertainment and gambling are considered legitimate industries nowadays and encouraged by many governments. In the 1930s social attitudes were somewhat different.

Contradicting the popular belief that Macau was quiet and boring in the 1930s, the Macaense literary figure Henrique de Senna Fernandes remembered it as being quite the opposite for the community. Social life for th+e community was active, not just in the clubs but at anniversaries, baptisms and weddings. "Thus, one was always at this or that house for tea, for dinner or simply for good evening conversation. Opera arias, old English ballads, the fado, were played and sung. ... Music was a pretext for improvised dance sessions at the sound of improvised orchestras or of the latest music-hall soundtrack records played on gramophones, since in those days owners of radios were very few."38

Senna Fernandes described the period between the two world wars as the patriarchal era when families were presided over by the father, "mostly an austere man, surrounded by numerous children, in a clan-like atmosphere, occupying a whole building or houses with a garden, and attended by endless servants that the cheapness and abundance of food justified."39

Macau city in those days was divided into two sections: the "Chinese city" and the "Christian city". He believed there were no Portuguese families inside the Chinese city but there was a Chinese enclave inside the Christian city. The Macaense community was extremely devout. In the homes after dinner, there were rosary prayers with children and parents kneeling beside the altar. In addition to formal education, the learning of proper etiquette was extremely important and closely supervised by the parents and grandparents. At school, girls would learn languages and the piano as well as domestic chores. After schooling, most girls would stay home "waiting for marriage and learning how to perform the duties of a house wife."40

In Senna Fernandes' description, one could detect a certain feeling of regret that in the 1930s, the Macaense dialect, the patuá, "was discouraged at home, in school, in the newspapers ... except of course during the vibrant days of Carnival [the reason being that the] great Macanese families [resolved as] a matter of honour to speak only in the most genuine Portuguese".41 According to Senna Fernandes, there was also no feeling of difference "between the Portuguese from here and the Portuguese from there".42

Regrettably the lifestyle vanished with the coming of World War II and the aftermath of emigration. The idllyic existence of the Macaenses in Macau described by Henrique de Senna Fernandes reflected his family background as part of the Macaense elite.43 We could expect that other less well-to-do Macaense families were unlikely to experience the same social and familial life. Away from Macau, the pattern varied even more, as to be expected, because Senna Fernandes was describing a Macau that had a sizeable Macaense population and was governed by Portuguese-speaking bureaucrats within a strict Roman Catholic environment. As the Macaenses increasingly flock to the other treaty ports, their circumstances were very different to those in Macau and they had to adapt as illustrated by the case of the McDougall family in Shantou.

21  Gunn, Encountering Macau, 95.

22  This decision was later formalised in the Treaty of Versailles signed on 28 June 1919 despite overwhelming opposition from the Chinese Government and people.

23  Spence, Chinese Roundabout, 298.

24  Gunn, Encountering Macau, 107.

25  Ibid., 78.

26  Supplement to The Sun News Pictorial, 8 February 1930, BMC-NLA, MS4300, Box 12, Envelope 1.

27  Hongkong Sunday Herald, 10 April 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 73.

28  C.A. Montalto de Jesus, Historic Macau, 485.

29  Ibid., 477.

30  Ibid., 484.

31  The China Truth, 24 August 1929, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 1.

32  The Morning Post, 18 June 1926, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 22-23.

33  Ibid.

34  The annotations made for interesting reading and were essentially a full review of the text, updating it and in many instances adding to it. BMC-NLA, MS 4369.

35  Teixeira, "The Death of the historian José Maria Braga" in Review of Culture, No. 5, April-June 1988, 99-100.

36  South China Morning Post, 19 October 1932, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 10, BRA/4023, 81.

37  Ibid.

38  Senna Fernandes, "Macau, Yesterday", in Cunha (ed.), 51-69.

39  Ibid.

40  Ibid.

41  "Macao Carnival: Old time revelry invades Portuguese Colony", South China Morning Post, 14 February 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 2, BRA/3990, 23. Carnivale was a big attraction for locals and visitors from Hong Kong. The young people of the Portuguese community and other seniors dressed up in fancy dress, colourful national costumes and sang songs to the accompaniment of guitars. There were colourful parades and parties were held in the four clubs.

42  Senna Fernandes, "Macau, Yesterday", in Cunha (ed.), 51-69.

43  Marreiros, "Alliances for the Future" in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 163-172.


Shantou was an important outport for British companies such as Butterfield & Swire where its manager was said to "rule the roost".44 Although having a Scottish name, the McDougalls were a prominent Macaense family from Hong Kong closely related to the Ozorio and Remedios clans. The Scottish surname came from Michael McDougall's great grandfather who came to Hong Kong in the 1880s. In a series of articles written for his club magazine (Lusitano Club of California, USA) in 1993, Michael McDougall told the story of his family's experience of life in Shantou.45 He informed us that although his maternal grandfather went to Shantou from Hong Kong only in the early 1900s, other Macaense families had been there since the port was opened for trade. His maternal grandfather was employed in a shipping firm that serviced the China-Malaya route from Shantou where his mother and four of her siblings were born. His father Edward Lionel McDougall arrived in Shantou around 1926 to work for Jardine Matheson & Co. as a book-keeper. There his parents met and were married in 1928.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, there were quite a few Macaense families there, numbering about forty to fifty persons.46 They were mostly employed by the foreign banks, shipping firms, import-export firms and Standard Oil Company of USA. However by the late 1930s, there was "only a handful" left due to people leaving for Hong Kong and Shanghai in search of better business and employment prospects.

According to McDougall, life in an outport like Shantou was "primitive" compared to Hong Kong and Shanghai. If one needed to consult a lawyer, a medical specialist or architect, one would need to go to Hong Kong or Shanghai. There was not the shopping, entertainment or cultural facilities available as in Hong Kong, but there were compensating factors such as the close communal feeling and the lack of "the snobbish class distinctions". Schooling was in Chinese only and there were "the continuous rounds" of parties, outings, club events, hunting, swimming and sports. In many respects, it was typical of life in the foreign enclaves around China though not of the same intensity.

Expatriate life was centred on the Customs Club whose membership was "cosmopolitan, informal, and inclined towards easy fellowship". The Club facilities included the bar, billiard room, card room, tennis courts and reading room. The Club provided a relief for the mixture of Europeans, Americans, White Russians, Macaenses, a few people of Middle Eastern background (some with United States passports) and a few Chinese. McDougall noted that the missionaries kept to themselves and did not get involved in the life of the Club. Business life, too, was more informal and there was not the snobbery of Hong Kong.47 Even without the overt class distinction of Hong Kong, the heads of Jardines and Butterfield & Swire, the Customs Commissioner and the British and American consuls were considered senior members of the foreign community in Shantou. Whenever there was a function, there were important seating and serving protocols to be observed.

Despite their relatively small numbers, the Macaenses and other foreigners in Shantou were not immune from anti-Western demonstrations such as occurred during the anti-British strike of 1925 which originated at Shanghai. During the strike in Shantou, no Chinese were allowed to work for British or American firms or their private houses. Michael McDougall's mother, then only eighteen years old, wrote: We could not buy anything to eat, to wear or use. As we have been so used to having servants in the house, it was a most difficult time for us all. Business came to a standstill. Every private home was under surveillance. Mother worked herself to the bone while I helped what I could. I found the laundry difficult to manage for my brothers and my father refused to do their own. ... Even transport was denied us.48

Eventually the community started a store of their own with weekly supplies from Hong Kong. These violent demonstrations of Chinese nationalism were thankfully infrequent. Together with the other foreigners, the small Macaense community enjoyed "a carefree existence, lulled, perhaps, by a false sense of security from extra-territorial treaties, and the presence of British and American gunboats".49

In 1938 Shantou fell to the Japanese "without firing a single shot" although during the previous year, the Japanese had bombed it and blockaded its harbour, causing the evacuation of foreign women and children to the relative safety of Hong Kong or the International Settlement of Shanghai. Despite interruptions to shipping and the shrinking foreign community, McDougall's father decided to stay on and was appointed the Agent of Jardine, Matheson & Co in 1940.

Following Pearl Harbour, Allied nationals were at first interned, but then allowed to returned to their own homes and even permitted to go shopping for necessities. In March 1942, it was decided that all Allied internees in Shantou would be transported by ship to Mozambique via Shanghai as part of an international exchange of prisoners under the auspices of the International Red Cross. They were to remain in Shanghai for approximately four months before leaving for Mozambique. In facing repatriation, McDougall expressed the dilemma of competing identities faced by his fellow Macaenses:

Repatriation meant an uncertain future, even finding new jobs or starting from scratch, but at least they would be free of the Japanese yoke. Our family had similar thoughts [but] having lived only in the Far East, we considered England a foreign country. In fact, when we were first asked by the authorities in Shantou if we wanted to be repatriated, we chose to stay, for life in China was all we knew; but ultimately they forced us to leave.50

44  Bickers, Britain in China, 91. For a more descriptive picture of British life there, see Cook, The Lion and the Dragon.

45  McDougall, M., "Life in an Outport: Swatow before Pearl Harbour, Part 1", Lusitano Club, Vol. 2 Book 3, September 15, 1993. "Part I1", Lusitano Club Vol. 3 Book 1, March 15, 1994. "Part III", Lusitano Club Vol. 3 Book 2, June 15, 1994.

46  The Macaense families who lived in Shantou also included the Antunes, the Cruz, Carvahlo, da Motta, Gosano, Guterres, Lopes, Osmund, Ozorio, Rozario and Silva-Netto. McDougall, M., "Life in an Outport: Swatow before Pearl Harbour, Part 1", Lusitano Club, Vol. 2 Book 3, September 15, 1993.

47  British snobbery and British feelings of racial superiority were an acknowledged feature of life in the international settlements and in Hong Kong. In 1912, Montalto de Jesus referred to it when he said: "the average Briton arrives in the Far East to put on an air of superiority which arouses resentment everywhere, and considers himself a 'Brahmin of Brahmins' even to his own countrymen lower in the social scale. ... Such is British snobbery overseas, in notable contrast to the amiable true gentlemen of Britain." Montalto de Jesus, Historic Macau, 452.

48  McDougall. M., "Life in an Outport: Swatow before Pearl Harbour, Part 1", Lusitano Club, Vol. 2 Book 3, September 15, 1993.

49  Ibid.

50  McDougall, M., "A filho de Macau family Odyssey 1942-46 – Part 1", Lusitano Club Vol. 3 Book 3, September 15, 1994.


The Macaense community in Shameen was larger than that in Shantou due to its longer history and the relative importance of Canton. There had always been Macaenses in Canton before and after the Opium War. In 1846, when the Hong Kong Postal Service opened a branch office in Canton, the Clerk in Charge was a Macaense, João B. dos Remedios. He was listed in the Hongkong Almanac and Directory for 1849.51

When Canton was destroyed in the 1857 hostilities between the Chinese and the Anglo-French forces, a new location was selected. Known as Shameen, the settlement was gradually rebuilt. For the foreign traders, such was the pull of Shanghai, that in the 1880s Shameen was considered sparsely populated. In the built up areas, the streets were narrow, some only eight feet wide but none more than twelve feet wide. The British concession was where the big "hongs" were established, but the French concession was almost barren. The British residents used part of it as a cricket ground. Even the French Consul was located in the British Concession. In 1894, the attractiveness of the French Concession improved with the sale of a big piece of land for development by the Chinese Maritime Customs. Soon the French Bank, French religious missions and Parsis also invested in property there.52

The place was of sufficient importance and size to warrant a Portuguese consul. The Portuguese consulate was established in Shameen in 1870. It had jurisdiction over one of the largest foreign communities in the settlement. There were also approximately two hundred Macau Chinese who were entitled to its protection. At the turn of the twentieth century, the consul was Costa de Moraes, well known for his "cocked hat and handle-bar moustache from ear to ear".53 Born in Lisbon, considered by the foreign communities as the "doyen" of the consular corps, Moraes had been in the diplomatic service for twenty-five years with postings to Barcelona, Gibraltar, Paris and now Shameen.54 At the time of the republican revolution of 1911, the consul was a Macaense named Carlos Augusto Rocha D'Assumpção. Born in Macao, he became consul for Portugal after serving in various capacities.55

Amongst the Macaenses who lived in Shameen for a period was S.A. Noronha*, son of the founder of Noronha and Company, Hong Kong. After working for his father's firm for a number of years, he went to Shameen where he established a printing company of his own. He remained there until the strike in 1925 when he returned to Hong Kong.56 Another prominent member of the Macaense community in Hong Kong, Arnaldo de Oliveira Sales, was born in Shameen in 1920. He lived there until the age of nine before going to Hong Kong for his education.57

In terms of occupation, the Macaenses were similar to their compatriots elsewhere, working for the foreign businesses and banks as clerks, book-keepers and the professions. The archives of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation contained a letter from a Macaense manager in its Shameen branch who felt compelled to write and requested a salary increase because the rising cost of living meant that he "could no longer afford to buy tennis balls".58

In terms of governance, Shameen mirrored Shanghai and had its own Municipal Council, and various consulates to administer the laws of their own countries to their own nationals. In social life, it was not as varied or intense as Shanghai's but the elements were there, such as the churches, dances and balls, the consular receptions on National days, early morning horse riding in nearby Tongshan, golf, tennis and cricket. On Portugal's National Day such as in 1928, the Shameen Portuguese community would gather to celebrate and invitations were extended to other consuls and foreigners to participate.59

The Macaenses living in Shameen were not immune from political tensions that threatened its peace such as the Franco-Chinese dispute in 1898 when rioters threw stones at the French consulate windows; or the Boxer Rebellion when foreign women and children were evacuated to Hong Kong as a safety precaution; or the 1911 republican revolution when Chinese refugees flooded into the place overwhelming the small foreign settlement.

The early 1920s were particularly tense, marked by labour disputes and anti-foreign demonstrations. There was the demonstrations against the Indian firms for better pay and conditions in 1923 and a general strike in 1924. In June 1924 there was an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the French Governor of Indochina who was in Shameen on a visit. The most serious disturbances were the Hong Kong-Canton strike of 1925 and the unfortunate shooting of Chinese in June 23 by the Scottish police inspector in Shaji leading to boycotts and troubles which did not end until October of the following year.60

Perhaps the most striking aspect about the period was the loss of Canton's pre-eminent position in China's foreign trade as business gravitated to Shanghai and the other ports. The degree to which it had been surpassed could be seen in statistics published in 26 January 1938 in The Daily Press Hong Kong in which its Customs revenue collection ranked below Shanghai, Tianjin, Hankou, Qingdao and Kowloon in descending order. Shanghai's revenue was twelve times Canton's, a remarkable achievement in that 1937 was the year that Japan finally declared war on China.61

*   [Editorial note: This could have been either Secundino António, born 1850, or Saturnino António, born 1851.]

51  Quoted by Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 151.

52  The Parsis (or Parsees), originally from Persia, settled in India due to religious persecution at home. They distinguished themselves as wealthy merchants under the British in India. Many followed the British East India Company to China and remained long after the British government had disbanded the Company. K.S. Kavarana, a Parsi who came to the region in 1886, gave his recollections of half a century of living in Shameen. South China Morning Post, 14 April 1936. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4010, 96.

53  The Daily Press Hong Kong, 26 January 1938, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 10, BRA/4022, 99-100.

54  Cartwright, H.A, "Canton", in Wright (ed.).

55  South China Morning Post, 9 April 1932, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 61.

56  South China Morning Post, 6 June 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 295.

57  Ribeiro Cardoso, "Sales, the Portuguese Godfather", in Macau Special 93, 60-68. Sales was elected president of Hong Kong's Urban Council for four consecutive terms between 1973 and 1981. In 1998 he was honoured by the Hong Kong Government with the inaugural award of the Grand Bauhinia for his contribution to sports in Hong Kong.

58  Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 19-22.

59  South China Morning Post, 6 October 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 134.

60  Ibid.

61  The Daily Press Hong Kong, 26 January 1938, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 10, BRA/4022, 99-100.

The Macaenses in Shanghai

The Macaense communities in Shameen and Shantou were small compared to Shanghai's. In the 1920s and early 1930s, the Macaense community in Shantou was estimated to be about forty to fifty persons whereas in Shanghai the 1929 census figures revealed that of the approximate 100 foreign communities, the Macaense community ranked fifth largest with 2113 persons behind the Americans (3614), the Russians (7687), British (9331) and Japanese (25650).62

The census figures put the Macaense community at a number greater than that reported by the Portuguese Consul-General Francisco de Paulo Brito Jr. in March 1928. The difference could be due to timing and the method of registration in that not all the Macaenses in Shanghai would be registered with the Portuguese consulate. Those Macaenses who were entitled to protection as British subjects would register with the British.63

The official census of 1929 was conducted during the period considered by many as Shanghai's "golden days" (1920s and 1930s) before the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War.64 A contemporary visitor described its frenetic pace in an article published on 6 November 1928:

Little that is anywhere is un-represented here. ... More and more people flock to Shanghai from all the world. ... Some seeking succour after years of travail, ... some anticipating economic opportunity, ... some intrigued by rich-hued tales of the fascinations of this wonder city of the East. ... To meet their needs there mount day by day ten storied apartment houses, new and greater hotels, residences in number scarce reckonable. ... There spring into being week by week, new shops, new restaurants, new amusement places of a dozen descriptions.65

Harriet Sergeant in her book Shanghai captured this vibrancy and its seedy reputation:

Shanghai became a legend. No world cruise was complete without a stop in the city. Its name evoked mystery, adventure and license of every form. In ships sailing to the Far East, residents enthralled passengers with stories of the 'Whore of the Orient'. They described Chinese gangsters, night-clubs that never closed and hotels which supplied heroin on room service. They talked familiarly of warlords, spy rings, international arms dealers and the peculiar delights on offer in Shanghai's brothels. Long before landing, wives dreamed of the fabulous shops; husbands of half an hour in the exquisite grip of a Eurasian girl.66

The Macaenses went to Shanghai in search of new opportunities and challenges. Among the early group of Macaenses was Antunes Martins de Oliveira, a businessman.67 Born in Macau on 20 October 1830 he arrived in Shanghai just eight years after the port was opened to foreigners. According to his granddaughter he became involved in business and owned property including a large house on four blocks of expensive land in the city. She described her grandfather's lifestyle thus:

Grandfather lived on a grand scale. He had twenty-five suits and dozens of shirts, with the days of the weeks marked on the tails so that grandmother could see that they were arranged in seven neat piles when they came back from the wash. He travelled around the city in a shiny black private rickshaw. ... He kept a flat-bottomed houseboat and a permanent crew of rowers so that he could go up-country whenever he wished to hunt wild boar and game birds. [He died in Hong Kong on 15 April 1895.]68

In her book Shanghai, Harriet Sergeant made several references to the community. They introduced the ball game of jai alai, available at the French Concession.69 They were mentioned twice in conjunction with the Shanghai Volunteers Corps.70 A Japanese woman recalled that her regular luncheon partners in Shanghai consisted of twelve working women from various national backgrounds, of whom, at least one was Macaense.71 The Macaenses were mentioned as residents of Hongkew in the 1920s known for "its famous market".72 Together with other Eurasians, Macaenses were said to have monopolised the clerical positions in the foreign owned businesses.73 The new offices of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank that officially opened for business on 23 June 1923 contained a lavatory specifically for use by its Macaense staff, separate from the British and Chinese staff who also had their own separate lavatories.74 Two of its prominent members were mentioned: Dr A.J. Alves, the Consul-General of Portugal in 1938,75 and J.A.S. Alves, a member of the Shanghai Race Club, descended from one of the earliest families to come to Shanghai.76 It was a commentary about those days that a woman said that: "As a child, I associated Portuguese with Eurasians, I thought it another name for them. After I left China, I was amazed to find they had their own country."77 Indeed in Bickers' book, if looking for "Portuguese" in the index, one is directed to "see Eurasians".78

While Sergeant mentioned the Macaense community more than most writers, the picture deserved to be filled out more. The Macaense historian Montalto de Jesus who lived in Shanghai around the turn of the century mentioned that a convert of the Macaense priest in Nanjing, João da Rocha, built the first church in Shanghai.79 He also cited Commander Teixeira who was in the employ of the French police at the French Concession where many Macaenses also lived. On 16 July 1898 Commander Teixeira ordered his men to fire on rioters when they stormed and demolished a wall at the local police station, resulting in twelve Chinese deaths and several foreigners wounded by the stones thrown by the rioters.80

In March 1928, the Portuguese Consul-General Senhor Francisco de Paulo Brito Jr. provided a comprehensive profile of the Macaense community in Shanghai in the early twentieth century. Of those who registered with his consulate, the ratio of male and female was about the same with men accounting for only fifty three per cent. While the overwhelming majority (over ninety percent) were employed in commerce, other occupations were listed as customs officers, teachers, musicians, civil engineers, businessmen, lawyers and solicitors. According to the Consul-General Brito, there were four Macaense business enterprises the most important being the Botelho Brothers, headquartered in Hong Kong and H. Oliveira & Son from Macau.81

Consul-General Brito reported that for the majority, their pay was "average". Those that worked for the commercial firms were obliged to contribute to a provident fund for retirement purposes which earned attractive interest rates. They also benefited from whatever contributions their employers might care to make. The Consul was proud of their sporting achievements and their prominent contribution to the Shanghai Volunteers Corps.82

Amongst the musicians was Emílio Epigménio da Encarnação, who made an outstanding contribution to the social life of Shanghai and Beijing. He was born in Macau on 14 February 1874 and died in São Paulo, Brazil, on 6 June1963. At the age of twenty, he was asked to play at a party at the Customs House, Macau to welcome Sir Robert Hart, the head of China Maritime Customs, from Beijing. Sir Robert invited young Emílio to work for him in Beijing as an officer in the Post Office and also to organise a band, an offer that was readily accepted. In Beijing, Emílio founded the famous Sir Robert Hart Band which became a regular fixture at garden parties. An invitation from the Empress Dowager to perform at the Imperial Palace and to organise a band for her, wearing the imperial colours, might be considered the highlight of his career.

When Sir Robert returned to England in 1910, Emílio returned with his wife and family to Shanghai where he organised another band, playing for stage shows and dances. He also organised the band for the Portuguese Company of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. Emílio's daughter remembered their home in Shanghai in 1924 as a suite of rooms provided by the Post Office. It consisted of "four bedrooms, parlour, study, dining room (where Mother used to invite friends for Christmas dinners and roast a whole piglet in the oven) two bathrooms, pantry, kitchen, servant quarters, two large verandas, one facing the river and the other the Post Office yard."83

In Shanghai, the Macaenses had their own institutions such as the Club Lusitano which was the focal point for the community. Here the community gathered for social occasions and when they had serious community business to attend to. A local newspaper reported a 1929 meeting in which over three hundred were present, including some women. The occasion was to protest the article by "J.A.J" published in the China Review Weekly on 24 November on the "Macao Question". The article, considered to be full of inaccuracies and slander, united the various Macaense communities of Canton, Hong Kong, Macao, Shanghai and Japan in a "vigorous protest". J.F. Pereira, the oldest Macaense resident in Shanghai at the time, presided over the meeting which unanimously carried the motion: "That the local Portuguese community indignantly protest against the article published by the China Weekly Review, that it re-affirms its loyalty to Portugal and that without exception its members will always defend Macao, even with their lives, if necessary."84

The community also had an association for its women, the Associação das Senhoras Portuguesas, which was active in charity work. In a newspaper report published on 25 June 1927, it was listed among the various organisations that received annual disbursements from the Shanghai Race Club. The amount allotted to "Portuguese Ladies Benevolent Society" was the same provided to other charities run by Jewish women, Shanghai women, British women and American women, attesting to the high social standing of the community at the International Settlement.85

Sports were high on the community's list of achievements. The Portuguese Sporting Association was frequently involved in competition against teams from other nationalities and participated in inter-port games against other teams, notably from Macau and Hong Kong. Living in the midst of overcrowded Shanghai it must have been doubly satisfying to be able to play in a spacious "multi-court tennis area rented from the Municipality in the middle of the race course".86

An outstanding sportsman was H.C. Collaço who was born in Shanghai on 24 November 1903, and died in California, U.S.A. on 1 March 1990. It was written that he "typified the super sportsman of his era, excelling in any sporting activity at which he choose to participate." He excelled in soccer and at eighteen was selected to represent Shanghai in inter-port games against Hong Kong, Tianjin and Hankou, whilst continuing to be the mainstay of the Club Lusitano team in the local First Division League. At twenty he became a top player in the Shanghai tennis world, winning the Men's Doubles Championship three times with Jack Wade, and the Mixed Doubles title with his wife Thelma. At twenty-two, he took up riding and soon became a top-notch jockey, winning many championship races. He left Shanghai in 1949 and lived in Hong Kong for four years before migrating to Sào Paulo, Brazil, then to San Francisco.87

62  Shantou figures were estimated by M. McDougall. The Shanghai's figures were published on 6 March 1932 in the Shanghai paper, South China Sunday Star, from a census conducted in 1929 by the authorities of the International Settlement, the French Concession and the Chinese Municipality of Shanghai. The paper claimed that Shanghai was Asia's largest city with a total population of 3,156,141 including 59,285 foreigners. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box No 3, BRA/3995, 24ff.

63  Brito, "A few statistic data on the Portuguese colony of Shanghai", in Cunha (ed.). A sizeable proportion of the Shanghai Macaenses, such as those from Hong Kong, claimed British consular protection. Not all British consuls felt that they should be entitled to it. See Bickers, Britain in China, 241.

64  The Sino-Japanese War of 1937 severely disrupted Shanghai's commerce with the Chinese interior and set in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the yielding of extra-territorial privileges by the U.S. and British governments when the United States participated in World War II following the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

65  South China Morning Post, 6 November 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 139-140.

66  Sergeant, Shanghai, p 3.

67  Margaret Gaan: "Last Moments of a World", quoted by Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume III, 871.

68  Ibid.

69  Sergeant, Shanghai, 3. Although said to be introduced by the Portuguese to Shanghai, "jai alai" is of Spanish origin and a popular game in the Philippines. The game is played in a three-walled court by two or four players. A hard rubber ball is caught and thrown with a long curved wicker scoop strapped to one arm of the player. Gambling is associated with the game where bets are made on the eventual score while the game is in progress.

70  Ibid., 71.

71  Ibid., 184.

72  Ibid., 179.

73  Ibid., 48.

74  Ibid., 169.

75  Ibid., 320.

76  Ibid., 107.

77  Ibid., 179.

78  Bickers, Britain in China.

79  C.A. Montalto de Jesus, Historic Shanghai, xxiv -xxv notes.

80  Ibid., 243.

81  Brito, "A few statistic data on the Portuguese colony of Shanghai".

82  Ibid.

83  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume I, 1040-1042.

84  South China Morning Post, 29 December 1929, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 146

85  On this occasion the Shanghai Race Club's charity disbursements for the first half of the year total $146,740 in the currency of the day. The largest distribution was $35,000 to various military and naval commanders for unspecified projects. The second largest was $20,000 towards a fund for refugees from river ports and the interior. Equal third were the Shantung Road Hospital and the King's Daughters Soceity each allotted $12,480. The Russian charities were allotted $4,000. North China Herald, 25 June 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 5, BRA/4003, 60.

86  Silva, All our yesterdays, 46. More than half a century later in March 1999, a former Shanghai Macaense would still talked glowingly about the community's sporting achievements in old Shanghai when he addressed the Encontro III audience assembled on the grounds of Club de Recreio in Hong Kong.

87  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume I, 754.

Crimes and Misdemeanours

The Shanghai Macaense community had its share of notoriety. Under the principle of extra-territoriality, foreign consuls possessed enormous power over their nationals in China. Frederic Silva recounted such stories in his book.88 Many of the stories were usually about compassionate Portuguese consuls, however if one should run foul of one's consul, there was no place in Shanghai to hide. The arrest of the Shanghai Macaense lawyer, C.J. da Silva, was reported in the North China Daily News on 27 March 1916. Da Silva was issued with a summons by the Portuguese Consul de Barjona de Freitas. The summons was understood to be connected to a pamphlet warfare against the Portuguese consul. Others involved were served with summonses successfully but da Silva refused to be served. At one stage, he pointed a revolver at the sheriffs and fired three shots into the walls and ceiling. Later he was persuaded by friends to go to Club Lusitano believing he would be safe there. However, he was mistaken and was arrested at the Club.89

The more serious offenders were normally sent to Macau for trial as the following two incidents indicated. Known as "the Shanghai Trunk Murder Case", it was reported on 14 September 1933 that Particio Remedios, unemployed, admitted to the killing of Choy Ling in a fit of jealousy because of her friendly relations with other men. He had despatched her body in a trunk to Kobe, Japan. Remedios was sent for trial at Macau and was subsequently sentenced to twenty-one years' exile to Timor.90

On 19 April 1934 Carlos Eduardo Lopes appeared before the Court in Macau. He had been transferred from Shanghai to face the charge of embezzling $4,245.00 from his employer, the Cathay Insurance Company in Shanghai. Judge Vasconcellos found Lopes guilty and sentenced him to two years imprisonment with hard labour as well as a fine.91

88  Silva, All our yesterdays, 45.

89  Hongkong Daily News, 27 March 1916, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 185.

90  South China Morning Post, 14 September 1933, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 128.

91  South China Morning Post, 19 April 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 155.

Defending Shanghai (Portuguese Company SVC)

When civil unrest threatened Shanghai, such as during the 1927 Guomingdang's northern expedition to unify China, the Macaense community together with other communities took part in defence of the settlement in Shanghai. They contributed to the defence of Shanghai in two ways: first, the Portuguese battleship Republica was stationed in Shanghai to augment the troops and gunboats of other Western powers. A report published in the North China Herald on 28 June reported that the Republica under the command of Commodore G. Ivens Ferraz had been in Shanghai for nearly four months. During that period, the three-thousand odd members of the Macaense community provided hospitality for the Portuguese troops.92

Their other contribution was the Portuguese Company of the Shanghai Volunteers Corps. The Shanghai Volunteers Corps had been set up during the turmoil of the Taiping Rebellion in the 1860s and was an integral part of Shanghai's civil defence although some considered such volunteers as "military protection on the cheap".93 The Portuguese Company of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps was officially inaugurated on 3 March 1906 and was made up entirely of Macaenses living in Shanghai. The Portuguese Company took great pride in their civil defence obligations and in parades on important occasions.

The Committee members responsible for creating the Portuguese Company of the Shanghai Volunteers Corps were João Nolasco (first commander of the Portuguese Company), J.D. das Chagas, D.M. Gutterres, F.J. d'Almeida, J.M.P. Remedios, F. Mattos, Ernesto dos Santos Carneiro and Pio M. de Graça.94 The first list of enrolments consisted of one hundred and fifty names, far in excess of immediate requirements, so a "reserved unit" was suggested and formed. The first drill took place in the compound of the Hongkew Police Station a few days after formation. The men were armed with carbines and short bayonets, and equipped with leather bandoliers, khaki haversacks and water bottles. English was used in the words of command, but in 1908, when the Volunteer Corps could perform field exercises with ease, permission was granted by the Municipal Council to adopt Portuguese military terms in their drills. The company had a Red Cross Section supervised by members who held first aid certificates. A brass band was formed and "proud was the day when the Unit marched to parade led by its own Band!"

In 1910, some members attended the memorial service in Macau of the Macaense hero Coronel Vincente Nicolau de Mesquita after whom the Portuguese Company was named.95 They were accorded the honour of acting as pallbearers. During their visit they took part in a shooting competition against a combined Portuguese Army and Navy team.96 In Shanghai during the 1920s and 1930s there were frequent incidents and disturbances which gave the Volunteer Corps many opportunities for service. Some distinguished themselves such as Major Leitao who had been active for the past twenty four years and whose retirement as Head of the Weapon Training Committee of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps was reported in 1935 by the North China Daily News97.

The Portuguese Company of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps had been in existence for thirty-six years before the Shanghai Municipal Council ordered it to be disbanded after Japan had taken control of the International Settlement following the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Since its formation in 1906, over 700 members of the community had enrolled for volunteer service.98 In recognition of the meritorious services rendered to the residents of Shanghai, and the assistance extended to the foreign armed forces during all the emergencies since its formation, the Portuguese government honoured it by conferring the company with the Order of Christ. During its existence, it was inspected by visiting dignitaries, notably General José Joaquim Machado (1909), General Gomes da Costa, Commander in Chief of Portuguese Expeditionary Forces in France in World War I (1923), Commander Ivens Ferras of the Republica (1927) and the Governor of Macau, Senhor Artur Tamagnini de Abreu Barbosa (1930).

92  North China Herald, 28 June 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 92.

93  Bickers, Britain in China, 14.

94  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 4.

95  Lamas, History of Macau, 80-83. Mesquita, a Macaense, became a legend due to his bravery in storming the Chinese fortress in Pak Lan Shan in 1849 following the assassination of the Macau governor Ferreira do Amaral by some Chinese. The Portuguese Company of the Shanghai Volunteer Corp was named after him. The company was known officially as Companhia Portuguesa "Coronel Mesquita" SVC.

96  South China Morning Post, 16 August 1910, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 2, BRA/3990, 1.

97  North China Daily News, 7 June 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3997, 9.

98  The officers who commanded the unit since its formation were: Captain João Nolasco, Major António M. Diniz, Major Fernando A. Leitao, Major Manuel F.R. Leitao and Captain Prospero A. da Costa.

A Macaense's life in Shanghai 1920-1951

The autobiography of Felipe B. Nery provided many insights into the Shanghai Macaense community and was informative in that he was in Shanghai during the major emergencies such as the start of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, during World War II and the aftermath of the Communist victory in1949.99 Nery did not reveal how his parents came to be in Shanghai, but only that like a lot of their compatriots from Macau, they had left in search of opportunities which were more easily found in Hong Kong and Shanghai. His father worked in a bank and due to his mother's continual ill health that required frequent and extensive hospitalisation, he had been brought up in a French Convent and later attended Saint Francis Xavier College as a boarder. Like many Macaenses who grew up away from Macau, Nery could only speak English, not Portuguese.

Felipe Nery described the simple pleasures of his childhood, of spending most of the summer holidays in the creek "hopping from one sampan to another, attempting to catch crickets. ... These crickets, when caught, were used for combat against those of our friends."100 He recalled that many fellow Macaense families were close neighbours living along Nanjing Road and how Hongkew Park was a special place for the whole community, the venue for many picnics and sporting events. Some Macaenses were well off owning their own homes in Shanghai such as the Collaços family who owned two.

According to Nery, Club Lusitano was the centre of communal life. Under its auspices, social and sporting activities were organised. The New Year's Eve formal dance was considered one of the highlights of the Shanghai Macaense social calendar. In line with common community practice, Nery was sent to Macau for his secondary education and returned to Shanghai in 1937 where at the age of seventeen he commenced his career at the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank. Despite the low pay, working for the Bank was considered worthwhile because of its stability and the attractiveness of its pension scheme. The prospects for promotion were not that great. Being the Chief Clerk of a department was the highest position a Macaense employee could ever hope to attain in those days.101

Nery recalled vividly the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 as refugees from surrounding areas crowded into the French Concession and the International Settlement to escape the fighting but many succumbed to hunger, exposure and disease as the streets of the International Settlement were "littered with corpses every morning". For the Macaenses who lived in Japanese-controlled Hongkew, the fighting forced many to move out to the French Concession or the International Settlement. This was not easy because of the severe shortage of housing and the need to pay "key money" for even the most basic accommodation. Consequently young Macaense children, women and those without a job were encouraged to leave Shanghai for Hong Kong or Macau.102

Beginning in 1938, Shanghai became a city of refuge for European Jews fleeing Nazism as no passport or visa was required to enter.103They came in such numbers and impoverished that the white community of Shanghai suffered a "loss of face". Shanghai was a society where Europeans were respected for their power or wealth and manual labour was unheard of for Europeans. Wishing to seek employment it was not unusual to find English language newspapers that carried job advertisements with the warning: "No refugees wanted".104 Such was the concern for "face" that the Chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Council wrote to the Consul-General of Portugal, Dr A.J. Alves (as Senior Consul for the International Settlement) urging him to advise all Consuls to exert their influence to help stem the tide of Jewish refugees coming to Shanghai.105

In 1939 the declaration of war by Great Britain on Germany forced many British males of eligible age to leave Shanghai to enlist in the armed forces, thus creating a vacuum in the managerial positions in Shanghai. These were filled by Macaenses and other foreign nationals but only on a temporary basis as the British nationals were expected to return after the end of hostilities. Nery, feeling that he wasn't getting anywhere in the bank, accepted work with the Municipal Council in the Accounts office of the Public Works Department.

Fear and apprehension engulfed the Macaense community the day after Pearl Harbour when Japanese troops entered the International Settlement and occupied or confiscated properties that belonged to Britain, United States and their allies. Japanese sentries were posted outside these buildings and the Shanghai Municipal Council was also taken over. The Japanese required all British, Americans and Jews to wear arm bands bearing the initials B, A or J. They were forbidden to enter night clubs, bars, theatres and other places of entertainment. Residency identity cards were required to be obtained from the police and must be in one's possession at all times. Short-wave radios were required to be "modified" to make the short wave element non-functional.

The Macaense community was exempted from these forms of harassment due to the declared neutrality of the Portuguese government. The connection of the French Vichy government with the Axis powers also saved the French Concession, where many Macaenses lived, from a similar fate. The closure of many firms affected the Macaenses badly. At the Municipal Council (pre-war a major employer of the Macaenses) Nery lost his job in 1943. He was dismissed along with all other foreigners when the International Settlement was taken over by the Chinese and all records were converted into Chinese. Times were so hard that the Portuguese Consulate had to maintain a refugee camp for the Macaenses in the French Concession and other consulates started to give out small monthly allowances to help meet "subsistence expenses".106

In 1943 there were massive devaluations of the Chinese currency and soaring prices. Following the loss of his job at the Council, Nery and some friends had to resort to buying and selling gold bars, soap, flour, apartments, illicit liquor and anything else they had contacts for. He even tried his hands at selling Russian meat and vegetable pies (piroshkis) made by his future mother-in-law to shops, clubs and refugee centres.

Nery mentioned the 1943 imposition of price controls on essential items that were also subject to severe rationing. Wages were frozen and there were very long queues to purchase the expensive rations. Following the death of his father in 1944, he was offered his father's old job as an interpreter at the Race Course during the racing season. With the Japanese surrender, Shanghai became a boom town again with plenty of jobs available and American products flooded the black-markets. Nery got a job with the American armed forces and later found work with a Jewish leather importer. In October 1946, he married his fiancée, a White Russian women who worked as a nurse at the General Hospital.

In 1949 when the Communist victory became imminent, many foreign governments urged their nationals to "go home". This posed a dilemma for Nery and illustrated the crisis of identity facing many Macaenses in China: where was home? Shanghai was the only home he knew. Furthermore, many Western powers with colonies were facing pressures of decolonisation and most countries seemed to be economically impoverished and depressed following World War II with the exception of the United States. Macau had offered refuge to all Macaenses but Nery applied to emigrate to the United States instead. At the time, he still had a job with the French Tramways and despite the Communist takeover, opted to remain in Shanghai to await the outcome of his application.

99  Nery, Filho de Macau.

100  Ibid., 19.

101  Ibid., 24.

102  Ibid., 58.

103  Like the White Russians, the Jews were another ethnic group that marked Shanghai in its "golden days". There were three main groups of Jews in Shanghai. The first group were the super-rich Iraqi Jewish families such as the Kadoories, Sassoons, Hardoons and Ezras. Intensely loyal to the British, their wealth was legendary. The second group were the Russian Jews who escaped with other White Russians after the October 1917 revolution. Their numbers were not large. The third group were Jews escaping from ethnic-cleansing programs in Nazi Europe. They came from all over Europe, but mostly from Austria. This group was the largest, estimated to number about 20,000 at one stage. Circumscribed by the ravages of the Sino-Japanese War, they created a community with cafes and theatres that became known as 'Little Vienna'.

104  Heppner, Shanghai Refuge, 42-43. Heppner dedicated his book to the 2000 plus Jewish refugees who died in Shanghai between 1938 and 1948. His life and story became the inspiration for a movie, titled "Port of Last Resort", which was shown at the Festival of Jewish Cinema in Sydney, Australia during November 1999.

105  Sergeant, Shanghai, 320.

106  Ibid., 48-49.

Macaenses in Shanghai – post 1949

Nery was one of hundreds of Macaenses who for one reason or another did not leave before the Communists took control of the city. They chose to remain to see what would happen. Figures kept by the British Consul-General in Shanghai revealed that in June 1951, nearly two years after the proclamation of the People's Republic, there were still nine hundred British subjects in Shanghai, of which one hundred and forty were clearly recorded as Macaenses. These figures did not include spouses or children.107 Due to the absence of figures from the Portuguese consulate in Shanghai, there were likely to be many more Macaenses who for one reason or another did not join in the mass exodus.

Nery and his Macaense friends would have witnessed the mass hysteria of people wanting to leave Shanghai in advance of the communist takeover. All ships, planes and trains were fully booked. Shops and stores were boarded up for fear of looting while the remnants of the Shanghai Police Force did its best to give some semblance of law and order. Nery wrote that purse-snatching and food-snatching were becoming an everyday occurrence on the streets.108

Why did so many Macaenses and foreigners decided to stay? According to John Luff, the headmaster of the Shanghai British School who was in Shanghai during 1949 and stayed on for a few more years after, it had to do with ignorance, naivety and the strong settler identity of the 'Shanghailanders'. In a series of articles published in the newspaper The China Mail Hongkong in 1958, Luff wrote that if was because the Shanghai businessmen fundamentally believed that the new Communist regime would leave things as they were; that the Administration of the city would not be disrupted because of the special skills that was needed to run a city the size and complexity of Shanghai; that entrenched beside the "longest bar in the world" (located inside the Shanghai Club), they were oblivious to the realities around them. Lulled into a false sense of security, the Macaneses in Shanghai were no wiser. Many like Nery still had a job and they felt no compulsion to flee. According to M.H. Gutterres, another Macaense from Shanghai, many Shanghai Macaenses "had lucrative positions and [were] accustomed to a comparatively high standard of living prior to their exodus from the once glamorous city of the Orient. [During the first half of the twentieth century, the Shanghai Macaense] community as a whole looked on the various incidents as unavoidable phenomenon which will adjust themselves eventually and ignored the suggestions of other nationals to evacuate to safer zones."109

The Shanghai Macaense mentality was not dissimilar to the general mentality of the foreign settlers as described by Luff. In reality, the Shanghailanders' settler identity had infected the Macaense psyche:

I found that one was always too late in Shanghai, yesterday was always better than today. As I saw the Shanghailander, he was one with his face peering over his shoulder blades. He never spoke of today, always yesterday, about good times that was (sic) gone. Yet he had a wonderful lust of life. Optimistic to a fault. Generous, tricky at business, his eye always on the main chance; hard working, hard playing, hard drinking, with a zest for turning night into day, he was a likable chap. He had endured several invasions but always they turned out the same way. They petered out. He had been imprisoned by the Japanese, he had seen the city die, but only to spring to life again. No wonder then that as the armies of Mao Tse-tung mustered for the kill, he was as optimistic as ever. ... Shanghai had endured, Shanghai would endure.110

The Macaense community and others also took comfort in the assurances given by the new communist regime that foreign interests and properties would be respected, and that there would be religious freedom. The takeover was quick and within twenty-four hours Communist forces were in complete control of Shanghai. As far as Luff knew, no civilian member was killed and certainly no member of the foreign community was hurt in any way. The next day, shops began to open again. The currency demanded as the medium of business was the US dollar and the Chinese silver dollar. Within a few days life was almost normal. By the following Monday, everyone had gone back to work. Luff wrote: "The takeover was magnifcent. The rights and property of the foreign community was respected. The Communists stayed icily aloof. Within a week, the river was re-opened, and the first ship entered Shanghai under the new regime."111

Soon businesses started to suffer due to the new principle of worker participation in decisions of the management and the requirement for workers to attend political meetings. The new regime placed increasing restrictions on religious organisations and schools making it difficult to operate. The refusal of the Catholic Church leadership in Shanghai to renounce their allegiance to the Pope in Rome created severe obstacles between the church and the new regime. The Catholic Church was an important institution in the life of the Macaense community and Nery and his friends believed that they were under constant surveillance due to their active involvement in church activities.

Although his American visa had not yet been approved, Nery decided in early 1951 to leave for Macau by train, via Canton and Shenzhen. Finally through his wife, he managed to get a visa to emigrate to the United States arriving in 1952 at San Francisco to begin a new life at the age of thirty three.

Others Macaenses were not as fortunate as Nery. From stories gathered in the course of my research, some were denied exit visas from Shanghai because of their managerial positions in various enterprises. These Macaenses had to wait until indigenous staff could be trained to take over their positions while others had to find solid citizens of good repute and acceptable to the Communist regime to vouch for their good conduct. In the prevailing climate of fear, not many local people of sound standing were willing to stick their necks out for foreigners for fear of future repercussions.112 For those that could not managed to get out, the International Refugee Organisation eventually managed to resettle the last group of Macaense refugees in Brazil in August 1953.113

107  Bickers, Britain in China, 241.

108  Nery, Filho de Macau, 72.

109  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 16, Envelope 53.

110  "Prelude to Adventure", The China Mail Hongkong, 8 February 1958, 13, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 23, Folder 4.

111  "Takeover", The China Mail Hongkong, 1 March 1958, 8, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 23, Folder 4.

112  "The Way Out", The China Mail Hongkong, 5 April 1958, 8, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 23, Folder 4.

113  "Ferry to Macao", Asia Magazine, 12 November 1961, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 3.


Hong Kong Macaenses

– from the Opium War to the Cold War (1842 - 1952)

Hong Kong Macaenses – British – and best?

In 1930 an American abroad wrote an article in the South China Morning Post declaring Hong Kong as not only beautiful, but also "British and best".1 It was along similar veins that Macaenses in Hong Kong and Shanghai engaged in friendly banter concerning which was the better place to live. Mickey Sousa recalled with great fondness his visit to Shanghai in the late 1920s. Despite the bustling entertainment and other attractions of cosmopolitan Shanghai during its treaty port heyday, he considered Hong Kong as the better place to be in.2

It was not due to partiality that this chapter focused for the most part on Hong Kong; in fact it had been unplaitted from the previous chapter for several reasons. Firstly, it was desirable to break down the Macaense story into manageable chapter lengths. Secondly, outside of Macau, the Hong Kong community was the largest, with the longest history and the deepest roots. Furthermore, they encountered familiar issues of political patronage, multiple identities and the struggle for localisation of the civil service. These would be dealt with in the final chapter. Importantly, the Hong Kong Macaense story represented the whole gamut of the Macaense experience in China with more source materials available for research. In this chapter we traced the history and achievements of the Hong Kong Macaenses from its foundation to the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War which rapidly evolved into World War II. In the process, we compared the various places during the first half of the twentieth century.

Hong Kong, as stated previously, was the single largest beneficiary of Macaense emigration from Macau during the treaty century. British traders and their Macanese helpers had set up shop in Hong Kong even before it was officially declared a colony.3 At the time, Hong Kong was just a barren rock with a few fishermen's shacks along the shores. Because Hong Kong was still undeveloped and Chinese hostilities continued against the British, doubts were cast over its future with many traders opting to relocate to the newly opened ports such as Shanghai or to remain behind in Macau. Amongst those who remained in Macau were Captain Elliot, the Superintendent of British Trade, and his office staff.

From Macau came Chinese tradesmen and labourers, and Macaenses to set up businesses and offices for themselves and their employers. By 1842, there were already twenty-eight merchants in Hong Kong with an estimated 12,000 Chinese workers and tradesmen.4 The number had already doubled since the census some six months ago.5

Born out of the conflict between the two major powers, the beginning for Hong Kong was inauspicious on other accounts. In addition to typhoons, the early settlers succumbed to malaria and dysentery. A Macau journal suggested that if things worsened, Hong Kong would be known as "the Island of the Dead".6 Even after the Treaty of Nanjing had been ratified, there were serious doubts about its prospects for trade with few out-bound cargoes to satisfy the opium ships that frequented its harbour. Referring to those tough pioneer days, J.P. Braga wrote that his Macaense compatriots "endured with the British pioneers the trials, hardships, and horrors of those early years of Hongkong's history, and shared with them the labours which resulted in the building up of Hongkong."7

In the years 1845 and 1846, the Colony encountered budget deficits that caused many to speculate about its economic viability.8 British merchants complained to the Colonial Office in August 1845 about Hong Kong's lack of competitiveness, pointing out that some Americans and other foreigners had chosen to remain in Canton and Macau, "notwithstanding all the boasted advantages of Hongkong as a free port".9

Against the odds, Hong Kong continued to grow so that by 1860 the Chinese population had reached 92,441 Chinese while the British and other foreigners numbered only 2,476.10 The cause of this rapid growth was attributed to the Taiping Rebellion (1851-1864) that caused an influx of people into Hong Kong stretching its meagre resources. Another factor was the annexation of the Kowloon peninsula and the legalising of opium imports following the Treaty of Tianjin that concluded what some called the Second Opium War (1856 - 1858).

According to a contemporary observer, among those Chinese who flocked to Hong Kong during 1852 to 1853 were wealthy families escaping from the fighting and upheaval in China. They started new commercial firms and became increasingly prominent in trade, property and shipping.11 These Chinese firms prospered under the protection of the British government and were a factor in the fast changing economic conditions that threatened to overwhelm the old British firms from Canton. It became increasingly apparent that the opening of the treaty ports broke not only the monopoly of Canton as the centre for foreign trade but also the cartel of the old foreign firms that had operated out of there; in order to survive they needed to diversify.

During the first few decades, the incoming cargoes of opium and salt and the outgoing human cargo of coolies to Southeast Asia, the Americas and Australia dominated Hong Kong's trade. The trade in opium was becoming less profitable owing to competition from other countries and the increased costs from India.12 Indeed the opium business could not prevent the once mighty merchant firm of Dent & Co. from going bankrupt in 1867 together with eleven banks. Even the Government of Hong Kong had to borrow money from the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation to help meet its immediate financial needs during this period of economic stringency.13 Jardine, Matheson & Co, the big opium trading house, increasingly diversified its business. By the late 1880s its interests extended to land reclamation, textiles, railways, sugar refinery, ice works, shipping and stevedoring.14

The history books that had been written about Hong Kong had not dealt adequately with the role of the Macaenses and their significant contribution to its early development.15 In the decade leading up to the handover, the plethora of coffee table style publications about Hong Kong and its history bore scant reference to the Macaenses community.16 In my view, this was a gross oversight. Far from being insignificant, it had been the central argument of this thesis that as a group their contribution was significant, perhaps immeasurable. However, due either to indifference and the commercial and political realities of the day, their contributions had not been adequately recognised. As early as 1924, concerns were already raised about such an eventuality. An article in a Hong Kong newspaper stated that "[although] newcomers to Hong Kong noticed the large number of Portuguese [it is] doubtful whether they, or even the permanent residents, appreciate fully what the Portuguese, past and present, have done for places like Hong Kong."17

J.P. Braga provided an account of the Hong Kong Macaenses during the early period before 1900.18 We owed much of our knowledge about the early history of the community to him. As the entreport trade of Hong Kong grew and Macau's declined, more and more Macaenses left to find work in Hong Kong. Their salaries were low and meagre, the housing accommodation was crowded and "seemed always insufficient", made worse by the influx of Chinese refugees escaping from the Taiping Rebellion and other unrest in China. Braga wrote that the Macaense migrants from Macau "must have led drab lives [with] little outside entertainment to be had after the day's work. ... Within their family circles and in the company of congenial friends they spent their leisure hours, and enjoyed their simple pleasures. They had little in common with the British community, and lived very much among themselves. A hard working and law abiding community."19

Braga recorded that several did very well. By 1860 nearly forty Macaenses were employed by the Hong Kong government and upwards of one hundred and fifty were working for foreign firms. This was part of an estimated eight hundred Macaense men, women and children who had set up residences in Hong Kong.20

The Macaenses distinguished themselves in government service and the commercial firms. In the early decades of Hong Kong, they dominated the pharmacies as owners and employees. In 1849 they owned the Victoria Dispensary and the Medical Hall. By 1861 they started additional ones such as the Queen's Road Dispensary owned by A. de Sousa, and two other pharmacies owned by RD Silva and C.J. & VIE. Braga. 21

There were also a large number of printers and compositors. Until the 1870s, all the compositors were Macaenses. There were thirty-six compositors in Hong Kong working in the printing firms and the European newspaper offices. They had learnt the art of modern printing in Macau and brought it with them to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shameen and other ports. It was J.P. Braga's maternal grandfather, Delfino Noronha, who started the first printing business in Hong Kong with a small printing press, arriving there in the early 1840s. In 1861, he was listed as the largest employer among the Macaense firms in Hong Kong. By the end of that decade, Noronha's company became the de facto government printer and continued to be so until it was sold by his successors to the Hong Kong Government in the 1960s, a hundred years later.22

Although the Macaenses were known for their role as interpreters, it was merely "a common-place smattering of colloquial Cantonese" acquired not through formal training but through exposure and natural ability.23 One could only guess at the amount of errors involved as there was little incentive for formal language training because the remuneration was low for the efforts required.24 Nevertheless, many made a career out of it such as Carlos Augusto Rocha D'Assumpção, who died at Homantin, Kowloon, in 1932, aged 69. Born in Macao, he spent all his life until his retirement in the service of the Portugese Government, first as chief interpreter in the Department of the Chinese Secretariat, then as the Chinese interpreter accompanying various political missions to Beijing. In the course of his career, D'Assumpção held important positions as Secretary to the Portuguese Legation at Peking in 1902, as a member of the Portuguese Commission at the Opium Conference of 1908-1909 and as Consul for Portugal in Shameen in those momentous years of 1910-1911. At the end of his appointment he retired with his family to Kowloon. In the course of his career, he had received honours from the Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese governments.25

The early Macaense pioneers excelled in government service. Perhaps the most outstanding were Leonardo d'Almada e Castro and his younger brother, José Maria. In 1842, when the British authorities decided to move the office of the Chief Superintendent of the China trade to Hong Kong, the move was accompanied by the Macaense staff which included the two d'Almada brothers. Leonardo entered the service of the British Government in 1836 at Macau. At the time of his death at the age of 61 (1875), he was the Clerk of the Legislative and Executive Councils and First Clerk in the office of the Colonial Secretary, a very senior position in the Colonial bureaucracy. At his passing, the Legislative Council moved a motion of condolence and awarded life pensions to his widow and daughter.26

In those pioneering days, Hong Kong was not a hospitable place. The British suffered from pestilence and disease as well as disunity and quarrels amongst themselves. As willing helpers of the British from their days in Canton and Macau, the Macaenses were made welcome. Due to their diligence and capability, they gained acceptance so much so that the Secretary of State for the Colonies published a circular in 1862 giving them and others like them, the rights and privileges of British subjects. The extent of their presence could be seen from the British firms and Colonial Government directories of 1849-1861 which showed that Macaense employees outnumbered other races by two to one.27

Being a British subject did not make acceptance by the British any easier. There were opposition from British vested interests when non-British persons were considered for top positions such as the proposed appointment of Leonardo d'Almada as Colonial Secretary under Governor Bowring (1854-59) or the appointment by Governor Hennessy of the first Chinese, Ng Choy, to Hong Kong's Legislative Assembly in 1880.28

It was a period when the boundaries of race, class and culture appeared more pronounced and rigid than today and racial discrimination was widely practiced and institutionalised. According to Braga, a Macaense named Alexandre Grande-Pré, "appears to have become one of the earliest victims in Hongkong of that unfair racial discrimination so wrongly practised in ... British Colonial administration."29 During much of the twentieth century, racial discrimination became subtler and was often described as colonial snobbery. It was put forward as one of many reasons why Macaenses from Hong Kong decided to emigrate. An interviewee said: "We Macaenses were only cannon fodder, they [British] realised we were loyal. We were paid just enough to keep you but not enough to send your son to university. You may make a good living but if you want promotion you would have to be born overseas if working for British firms. For local Chinese firms, you had to be a member of the family."30

The Macaenses were indeed loyal and hard workers. Dr Cantlie alluded to this in 1896. Cantlie spoke to a group of British employers in Hong Kong about the importance of granting annual leave to their employees. He said:

Do not forget the Portuguese. Many of these men have been employed by European firms for ten, twenty or even twenty-five years, and have never been absent from the office unless with a medical certificate. Gentlemen, remember of what blood you are – the sons of men who abolished slavery. Do not allow this form of modern slavery to creep into our daily life unchallenged.

While one could not know the impact of Cantlie's speech on the Macaenses and their employers, it did indicate that the Macaenses' intense devotion to their work had not gone unnoticed by at least one outsider.31

The Hong Kong Macaenses were known not only as hard-working but also law abiding but some did ran foul of the law such as the two instances reported in 1936. The first was known as "the Portuguese kidnapping case" in which Frederic Barretto, aged thirty-one, pleaded guilty to three charges relating to the kidnapping of Luigi José Ribeiro, the six-year-old son of L.G. Ribeiro of No 7 Hanoi Road, Kowloon on 10 December 1935. In January 1936, Barretto was sentenced to twelve months hard labour while the second defendant, Luiz António da Rocha, aged twenty-seven, escaped with a warning from the magistrate.32

The second instance occurred in April 1936 when Anthony Rangel, aged forty-three, appeared before Magistrate Balfour and pleaded guilty to possession of seventy-two taels of raw opium. Formerly of Shanghai, Rangel was arrested at the Western Market with the opium concealed round his waist. The arresting officer said that Rangel was one of the subordinate couriers, that he was an addict, and that "at one time he was very wealthy but has fallen on evil circumstances. ... He is an educated man and is no fool." When asked whether the drug was for his own consumption, Rangel replied that as he was unemployed, he became a courier to earn a little money. The opium was confiscated and a fine or ten months' imprisonment was imposed.33

1  "Beautiful Hongkong – British and Best", South China Morning Post, 26 March 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4009, 75.

2  Interview with Mickey Sousa, South Coast, Sydney Australia.

3  The delay was due to the need to wait for the ratification of the Treaty of Nanjing by the Qing Government. According to Endacott, it also reflected British reluctance to assume colonial responsibilities in China due to pervasive anti-colonial sentiments at home. Endacott, A History of Hong Kong, 23.

4  Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 13.

5  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 140.

6  Ibid., 126-132.

7  Ibid., 143.

8  Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 16.

9  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 138.

10  Ibid., 140-141.

11  Spence, God's Chinese son, 270 -272.

12  Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 33.

13  Endacott, A History of Hong Kong, 146.

14  Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 33.

15  Endacott, A History of Hong Kong, contained more than most but the references were confined to these: the influx of Portuguese into Hong Kong, the early Catholic schools that taught Portuguese, their participation in volunteer defence, the government service of J.M. d'Almada e Castro and representation in the Legislative Council.

16  An example, Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story.

17  The Morning Post, 24 December 1924, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985.

18  Some were later published but many chapters remained unfinished and are amongst the papers of the Braga Manuscript Collection at the National Library of Australia, Canberra. The published articles appeared as Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China.

19  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 161.

20  English supplement, Notícias de Macao, 27 May 1951, compiled by Jack Braga. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 8.

21  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 168 -170.

22  Ibid., 154-157.

23  Ibid., 180-182.

24  The early Portuguese had been blamed for the mix up over the name "Canton" given to the city known to the Chinese as Guangzhou. According to Braga, the term was a corruption by the early Portuguese of a Chinese name that had been perpetrated for many centuries in the English language. Decades after the foreign concessions had been rebuilt and relocated to Shameen, the name "Canton" continued in popular usage and was used to describe the entire city. Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 185.

25  South China Morning Post, 9 April 1932, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 61.

26  Braga believed that had d'Almada lived a few years longer, he might have been appointed as the Colonial Secretary, the second highest office in the colony. The basis for that belief was a comment made by Governor Hennessy (1877-1882) who revealed to a delegation from the Macaense community that his predecessor Governor Bowring (1854-1859) had been instructed by the Colonial Office to appoint Leonardo d'Almada as the Colonial Secretary. Bowring did not carry out the instructions. Endacott revealed that "there was strong local opposition ... on the ground that he was not a British subject." Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 146 & Endacott, A History of Hong Kong, 88.

27  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 168-175.

28  Endacott, A History of Hong Kong, 88 & 176.

29  Grande-Pré came from Macau and served the Hongkong Government as an interpreter in the 1840s. Later he was transferred to the Police Force and was promoted to Assistant Superintendent in 1855, then later as Acting Superintendent. However, he was later forced to resign as a result of an inquiry into his appointment by other disgruntled officers. Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 148-150.

30  Name withheld by request.

31  South China Morning Post, 6 August 1934 quoting a report published on 6 February 1896.

32  South China Morning Post, 17 January 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 100.

33  South China Morning Post, 7 April 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3997, 35.

Recognition and Imperial awards

The loyalty and dedication of the Hong Kong Macaenses had been acknowledged by way of imperial awards and appointments to important civic posts. Awards were presented with fair regularity in the early 1900s. The first Macaense to receive an imperial award was Eusebio Honorato d'Aquino. On 28 October 1911 d'Aquino was awarded the Imperial Service Order upon his retirement after 50 years of service in the Stamp Duties Office.34

On 4 June 1935, the King's Birthday Honours List contained two awards to members of the Macaense community. J.P. Braga was awarded an O.B.E. while Arthur Maria de Souza was awarded the Companion of the Imperial Service Order. A Hong Kong paper commented that the awards were in recognition of the Macaense community, "a tribute to the loyalty and worthiness of that large section of the population."35

On 15 April 1937, J.A. d'Almeida was reported as retiring after thirty years of service as First Grade Clerk of the General Post Office. Although he served for nearly thirty years, the British colonial government did not recommend him for an award. Instead, it was the Portuguese Government who presented him twice with awards for his services to the community.36

On 31 May 1937, it was reported that John Reis Castilho, Second Bailiff of the Supreme Court of Hong Kong, was awarded the Imperial Service Medal upon his retirement after forty years of service.37

When J.P. Braga was awarded the O.B.E. in 1935, his citation revealed that it was recognition for the Macaense community as much as it was for him. It read, in part:

Your family has been connected with Hongkong from its foundations in 1841 and your interests are intimately bound up with the Colony whose prosperity you have laboured to promote. ... Yourself a British subject you have worthily represented the interests of the large body of Portuguese who have made Hongkong their permanent home and the honour which has now been conferred on you will rightly be regarded as a mark of appreciation of the steady and consistent loyalty of the Portuguese community.38

At the news of his award, one of his sons thought it should have been a higher award, perhaps a knighthood.39 Judging by the picture gained of Braga through the newspapers, his letters, the public and private acts of service and the condolences received at his passing, one could sympathise with the sentiment that he deserved greater recognition for the services rendered not only to his Macaense community but also to Hong Kong at large.40

By the time he was awarded the O.B.E. in 1935, Braga had already achieved significant recognition for the Hong Kong Macaense community. Born in Hong Kong on 3 August 1871 his biographical details had been noted elsewhere.41 He came to prominence in Hong Kong through his journalistic career serving as the managing editor of The Hongkong Telegraph from 1902 to 1909 and as the Reuters' correspondent for Hong Kong from 1906 to 1931.42 The high point of his career was undoubtedly his appointment as an Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council representing Kowloon on 17 January 1929. It was the first time that someone had been appointed to represent Kowloon and also the first time that someone from the Macaense community had been appointed to the Legislative Council. He held this post for eight years until 1937 when he retired due to ill-health. At the news of his retirement from the Council, the South China Morning Post declared that:

Mr Braga's contribution to the acceptable administration of the Colony has been equally appreciable; his public service based upon his long residence, familiarity with workaday problems and an indefatigable enthusiasm for development. Probably more than any other member of Council, he is in contact with the Colony's industries and with those therein engaged. His utterances are marked by concern for Hongkong as Hongkong – a territory with its own economic and social problems, the permanent home of thousands whose domestic interests are so easily overlooked in the consideration of matters of high finance and politics. A man of high moral courage, Mr Braga's complete retirement from public life would be an irreparable loss to the community.43

Besides J.P. Braga, the other Macaense that appeared fairly regularly in the news were Dr Filomeno Maria de Graça Ozorio and Dr R.A. de Castro Basto; both were members of the Sanitary Board.44 Together with Leo d'Almada who succeeded Braga in the Legislative Council, they paved the way for a long line of Macaense appointees to important civic positions.45 Those who followed in their footsteps included Sir Albert M. Rodrigues,46 Sir Roger Lobo,47 and Arnaldo de Oliveira Sales.48

34  South China Morning Post, 28 October 1911, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 74. D'Aquino was born in Macau on 15 December 1846. He became the Chief Clerk of the Stamp Duties Office and was considered "a living authority" of the Stamp Duties regulations.

34  South China Morning Post, 4 June 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4018, 89. De Sousa worked for the Hong Kong Government for over forty years, beginning in 1896 as a clerk in the Public Works Department. At the end of his career, he attained the position of Higher Grade Clerk in the Treasury Department.

34  South China Morning Post, 15 April 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 180. He was creditted with having established a few "institutions of real value" for his community; including providing the means for poor Macaense children to attend school. He also taught Macaense children their language during his spare time.

34  South China Morning Post, 31 May 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 222. He was educated at St Joseph's College, joined the public service in the Urban Council, then the Public Works Department and finally the Supreme Court

34  South China Morning Post, 7 November 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 195ff.

34  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 43, Folder 26. Letter from Tony Braga to Jack Braga, June 1935: "Am just going to send this telegram to Father: 'Warmest congratulations. Greatly disappointed meager recognition.' It's disgraceful, ... just a paltry O.B.E. It looks like a cumshaw from the departing Peel – the snob."

40  He was married to an Australian, Olive Pauline Pollard from Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. Together they had 13 children one of whom, Delfino, died at the age of seventeen. Delfino was buried in San Miguel cemetery in Macau. When J.P.Braga passed away in Macau on 12 February 1944, he was buried in the same grave as Delfino as indicated by the tombstone. Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume III, 324-333.

41  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume III, 323-325.

42  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 15, Envelope 40. From the biographical details of J.P.Braga supplied by himself to the Imperial Honours Committee dated 8 February 1935.

45  South China Morning Post, 26 January 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4018, 55.

44  Born in Hong Kong in 1892, Dr Filomeno Maria de Graça Ozório was the first Portuguese and youngest member (at aged 24) to serve on the Sanitary Board, the forerunner of the Urban Council. He was educated at St Joseph's College, then the Hong Kong College of Medicine. He served four years as president of Club Lusitano where he had "taken an active interest in the fusion" of Club Lusitano and Club de Recreio. He died in 1937, aged 45. South China Morning Post, 29 August 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 39ff. & South China Morning Post, 25 November 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 101 & South China Morning Post, 15 February 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 144.

45  At age 33, Leo d'Almada e Castro, jnr was one of the youngest ever appointed to the Legislative Council. His family was connected with Hong Kong practically since its inception. His grandfather served with Captain John Elliot in 1836 in Macau. Educated in St Joseph's College, then University of Hong Kong, then Oxford University, he was described as "of an unassuming and markedly modest nature [and] is a popular member of the Portuguese community. ... The mantle of Mr J.P.Braga has fallen on much younger but worthy shoulders." South China Morning Post, 22 January 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 133-134.

46  Sir Albert Rodrigues succeeded Leo d'Almada in the Legislative Assembly in 1953. Although Governor Black did not think that he had the intellectual capability of d'Almada (see Source CO1030/640 in Tsang (ed.), 203-204), he impressed many with his gentility and charm. For several decades, he became a leading light of the Hong Kong Macaense community becoming Pro-chancellor of Hong Kong University for a period. "Horizons of adventurers", Hongkong Standard, 10 June 1977, 16.

47  A successful businessman in Hong Kong, Sir Roger Lobo was said to have done a "little of everything at the official level". He was a government appointee to the Urban Council, a member of the Executive Council, the Legislative Council, the Housing Authority and the Independent Commission against Corruption. He also chaired the Hong Kong Broadcasting Authority and the Vision 2047 Foundation aimed to help retain the confidence of foreign governments and businessmen in Hong Kong after 1997. See Cardoso, "Sir Roger Lobo, a Macanese at the Top of Hong Kong", in Macau Special 92, 94-101.

48  Born in Shameen, Sales' impact on Hong Kong was perhaps the most wide-ranging in view of his years in the Urban Council and his sporting involvement. From 1957 to 1980 he was a member of the Hong Kong Government Housing Authority at an important juncture when the provision of affordable housing to Hong Kong's burgeoning population was a major government objective. He was the first elected Chairman of the Urban Council in 1973 and held that post for four consecutive terms until 1981. Around Hong Kong, some 40 plaques bore his name commemorating swimming pools, parks, buildings and monuments. He was also associated with several major projects such as the Coliseum, Queen Elizabeth Stadium, the Cultural Centre and the Asian Arts Festival. Beginning at Club de Recreio, he reached the pinnacle of sports administration in Hong Kong, becoming known as the "Mr Sports" of Hong Kong and represented Hong Kong in the governing bodies of the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games. In 1998, Tung Chee-hwa acknowledged his contribution by awarding him the highest civilian award in his first "honours list" as the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Cardoso, "Sales, the Portuguese Godfather" in Macau Special 93, 60-68.

Career mobility

The career of many Macaenses resembled some of today's business executives who travelled extensively in the course of their careers. A survey of the genealogies of the Macaense families indicated that many went to Japan,49 the Philippines50 and Singapore.51 The 1896 Macau census showed that they also went to Indonesia and Thailand.52 Most of them moved up and down the China coast to places such as Shantou, Foochow, Tianjin, Canton and Shanghai. The career of Henrique Hyndman illustrated this. Born in Macau, Hyndman followed his brother to Hong Kong to work as bookkeeper for M.C. Rozario & Co. Later he joined the China Sugar Refining Co. and was sent to the company's office in Shantou for a period. He then went to Shanghai where he was put in charge of a printing business that had been purchased by Delfino Noronha of Hong Kong. He returned to Hong Kong where he worked for Noronha before retiring to Macau where he continued to teach English at different institutions. As a teacher, he was well regarded by his students.53

Other examples might be gleaned from the family experience of J.B. Correa, a prominent member of the Macaense diaspora.54 Before World War II, his father was an accountant with an American brokerage firm in Hong Kong. He was transferred to Shanghai when the company decided to relocate their operations there believing that Hong Kong, being a British colony, would be attacked by the Japanese soon. So as not to disrupt their schooling, the family was left behind in Hong Kong. When war broke out, his father was stranded in Shanghai. Meanwhile his paternal uncle was stranded in the Philippines, having been transferred there to work for the American company, General Motors. Throughout his uncle's career, he was transferred from one place to another, to Shanghai, Japan, Hong Kong and Philippines.

The geographic mobility of members of the community could also be gleaned from the memoirs of C.E. de Lopes Osorio. He wrote about his circle of friends during his school days at St Joseph's College, Hong Kong in the late 1880s:

Before I completed my school days, the circle of friendship I formed was dispersed and wandered. The late J.A. Remedios left for Singapore, Mr J.P. Braga went to Calcutta to complete his study, the late Mr J.W. Loureiro joined the Chinese Maritime Customs in which he rose to be a Commissioner of Customs, Mr Frank S. Souza migrated to Japan where today he is the Portuguese Consul, the late Mr. C.A. Montalto de Jesus, the author of Historic Macao and Historic Shanghai, went to London and Lisbon where he served as one of the Secretaries, assisting in the League of Nations Conference, and Mr. F.P. Vasconcello Soares who acted for a short period as Portuguese Consul, in Hongkong. I hold these friends in pious memory.55

49  "V. E. R. Braga", in Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume III, 323.

50  "G.H. da Costa", Ibid., Volume I, 863.

51  "C.A. da Silva", Ibid., Volume III, 672.

52  Da Silva, "Macau", in Wright (ed.).

53  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 151-152.

54  Interview with J.B. Correa, Melbourne, Australia.

55  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 3. "My Garden of Memories" published in Pela Patria, Vol. I, No. 5, May 1940, 25.

Land and housing schemes

Some members of the Hong Kong Macaense community were active in property development, a pre-occupation that was to contribute much to Hong Kong's wealth in the latter decades of the twentieth century. J.P. Braga claimed that members of the Macaense community were the pioneers in the development of Kowloon and Yaumati in the later half of the nineteenth century. He specifically highlighted the efforts of Mathias Azevedo and Delfino Noronha.56 Between 1900 and the onset of World War II, there appeared to have been four ambitious housing projects promoted by prominent Macaenses of the period.

C.M. Ede promoted the first housing scheme early in the twentieth century. He aimed to create a "Portuguese reservation" at Wong-nei-cheong (Happy Valley) to provide suitable housing for the "middle classes" in Hong Kong. As its name suggested, this scheme was aimed exclusively for members of the Macaense community who were clerks employed in Government service, banks, insurance offices and business establishments. The area contemplated was 871,200 square feet including land to be set aside for school and playground. It was envisaged that different housing types would be offered in the form of terraces, bungalows, and semi-detached houses to suit the different levels of income.57

F.P.V. Soares promoted the second scheme for a "garden city" in Kowloon. As reported in 1912 by the Hongkong Telegraph, Soares' idea was to provide houses with grounds sufficient to enable residents to grow their own vegetables, fruits and poultry and to supplement their incomes by the sale of the surplus produce.58 It was proposed to let the houses at a cheap rate and to allow those with small incomes to purchase their homes on an instalment basis. The report supported the scheme describing the economic benefits to the community and the government. Specifically they would benefit through "an increase in Crown rents by the development of a region which is now mostly barren; by increased revenue from the railway, and by the creation of a new centre of population between Yaumati and Kowloon City." The developers proposed to lease from the Government 24,000,000 square feet of land. Within this area provisions would be set aside for educational and religious purposes. Unlike Ede's scheme this was open to all Europeans. This became the suburb known today as Homantin and F.P. de Vasconcellos Soares was known as the "father of Homantin".59

The third scheme was the development of Kowloon Tong. Soares and Ede teamed up for this project which had been acclaimed as "one of the show places of the colony, a garden city in itself, an asset for civic pride."60

The fourth scheme was initiated in 1932. Headed by J.P. Braga and backed by financial support from the Kadoorie family and the Eurasian businessman Sir Robert Ho Tung, the Hongkong Engineering and Construction Company promoted another ambitious housing scheme. According to the newspaper report it was one of the biggest property developments undertaken in the history of the colony comprising 1,330,000 sq. feet of land.61 A subsequent editorial in the South China Morning Post congratulated the Macaense community for their contribution and faith in Kowloon. The project was not as successful as originally envisaged due to the onset of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and World War II.62

The newspaper reports in the 1920s and 1930s alluded to the rationale for these housing schemes. Beside the motivation of profits, the developers were also driven by concerns that the constant influx of Chinese refugees to Hong Kong tended to aggravate the shortage of affordable housing for the Macaense community. Rents were increasing at an alarming rate and the richer refugees from Mainland China were buying up properties closer to the central business district forcing many Macaense tenants to move further away from their places of work. Others were attracted to the idea of living in close proximity to members of their own community and the educational, religious and social facilities. With Macaenses in senior administrative positions in the colonial government, it was not difficult for these Macaense entrepreneurs to receive sympathetic considerations for their schemes and government assistance such as the provision of new railway stations for these developments.

56  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 228-234.

57  "Housing Schemes In Hongkong", Hongkong Daily Press, 29 January 1912,

58  Ibid.

59  "Reminiscences of the peninsula", South China Morning Post, 23 November 1929, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 11, BRA/4024, 41ff.

60   South China Morning Post, 22 January 1932.

61  South China Morning Post, 17 November 1931, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 11, BRA/4024, 93.

62  South China Morning Post, 22 January 1932.

Active in commerce

Investment in real estate was not the only avenue for the Macaenses in Hong Kong to prosper. Since the beginning of the Stock Exchange for publicly listed companies, the community was already investing in them. When the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was first incorporated, many Macaenses invested their savings in its shares. Braga thought that this type of investment suited the community because it allowed them to participate in major commercial undertakings without the need of too much capital.63 The community could be said to have preferred such investments for often they were privy to much of the sensitive financial information of many of these firms, being clerks and bookkeepers in many of them. Unfortunately despite the access to inside information, stock markets rose and fell and many members of the community lost a lot of money as a result.

Not only as silent investors, some Macaenses were also active as directors, especially in the early years when the Chinese had not yet begun to take great interest in British companies as a form of investment.64 In 1931, Braga became the chairman of Hongkong Engineering and Construction Company.65 Many Macaenses were listed as shareholders. In November of that year, the Company announced it had purchased land for a "new garden suburb".66 Braga was also recorded as a director of China Light and Power Company, a company controlled by the Kadoorie family. His son, Noel Braga was listed as the Company Secretary.67 When the Japanese invaded Hong Kong, Noel, as Secretary of the company, took the share register and other important documents with him for safe keeping in Macau.68

In 1934 the Hongkong, Canton and Macao Steamboat Company had J.P.Braga and C.A. da Roza as directors when it reported losses of $54,055.50. These losses were reportedly due to the heavy depreciation of the Canton currency, the keen competition from the Kowloon-Canton Railway, the enforcement of restrictive regulations in Canton with regard to the shipment of fish and vegetables, and the general trade depression.69 Other Macaenses who served on its board at various times included J.J. dos Remedios, Baron de Cercal, F. d'A. Gomes, J.A. Gomes and J.M. Alves.70

Among the Macaenses, C.A. da Roza was particularly prominent as a director of public companies. He was Chairman of China Provident, Loan and Mortgage Co. Ltd, Green Island Cement Co. Ltd, China Phonograph and Radio Ltd, Vibro Piling Co. Ltd. He was also a director of Asia Coal and Bricqueting Co.Ltd; Hongkong, Canton and Macau Steamboat Co.Ltd; Sandakan Light and Power Co. Ltd; and China Underwriters Ltd.71 Unfortunately da Roza died in August 1936 at the age of fifty two. At his funeral at Happy Valley, there were a large number of mourners. According to a newspaper report, the entire staff and coolies of the China Provident, Loan and Mortgage Co.Ltd. joined the funeral procession. Another company, China Light and Power was represented by its management. Other unspecified business houses had also sent representatives.72

The most prominent Macaense private business in Hong Kong was the government printer and publisher, Noronha and Company founded by Delfino Noronha and acquired by J.M de Castro Basto upon Noronha's death. Born in Macau in 1854, Basto went to Shanghai with his parents where his father established a business. In 1867, along with his brothers, he was sent to study in Macau following which he was employed in a clerical capacity by a large insurance company in Hong Kong. After a while, he went to Shanghai and to Hankou before returning to Macau where he was married in 1883. Bored with working for his father-in-law's firm and finding "Macau life too inactive", he returned to Hong Kong in the 1880s and became a share and general broker. At the death of Delfino Noronha, Basto acquired the firm Noronha and Company from the estate. Later on, he even dabbled in oil exploration in Portuguese Timor, but this proved unsuccessful. Known for his wanderlust, he travelled around the world on three separate ocassions. All his sons were educated in Hong Kong then sent abroad to study at Lisbon or England. He died in Hong Kong aged eighty and his family continued the printing business until it was sold to the Hong Kong government in the 1960s.73

Perhaps the most colourful Macaense businessman was A.H. Tavares who died in Hong Kong in 1935, aged sixty, from a heart attack. He was born in Macau and had intended to follow a military career but left the army in 1897 following an injury. The South China Morning Post reported that:

Even in those pioneer days (1897) when equal opportunities were considered open to all who had the courage and the ability to translate them into terms of material wealth, Mr Tavares was regarded as a phenomenon. So big did his reputation grow, that as a prophet he was credited by his countrymen with clairvoyant powers in business, and he loomed as the richest man of his community. He bought extensive property at Hongkong, Macao and Singapore. With Chinese acquaintances and associates amongst whom he was a good 'mixer', this reputation of a 'wizard' was also strongly maintained, and the name of Saiyeung Yee [i.e. Portuguese Yee], by which he was known amongst them, was one to expect wonders.74

63  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 167.

64  Ibid., 234 ff.

65  Hongkong Telegraph, 31 August 1931, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 11, BRA/4024, 90-92.

66  South China Morning Post, 17 November 1931, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 11, BRA/4024, 93.

67  Ibid.

68  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume III, 326-327, Noel Braga.

69  South China Morning Post, 13 April 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 7.

70  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 237 & South China Morning Post, 5 March 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4009, 67. At one stage, Sir Robert Ho Tung was a substantial shareholder and a director of the company. It appeared that Ho Tung, himself a Eurasian, found much affinity with Macau and the Macaenses especially with J.P. Braga's family.

71  South China Morning Post, 20 March 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4009, 71.

72  South China Morning Post, 14 August 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 16.

73  South China Morning Post, 22 February 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 10, BRA/4023, 157.

74  South China Morning Post, 4 March 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3997, 6.

Macaense institutions in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Macaenses were distinguished by the various instutions that emerged over the century such as the Portuguese newspapers, the Portuguese Library (Bibliotheca Portuguesa), the Club Lusitano, the Club de Recreio, the Associação Portguesa de Socorros Mutuos and the Portuguese Volunteer Corps.

Portuguese newspapers in Hong Kong

In 1934, as part of his interest in documenting the history of Hong Kong, the former governor Cecil Clementi (1925-1930) listed the various Portuguese newspapers that had existed in the Colony. He wrote that many of the publications were news journals used by people, not necessarily Hong Kong based, to criticise the Macau authorities.75 The list as appeared below, had been updated to include corrections following the initial publication of the survey by Clementi:

  • O Echo da China (China Echo) – 1844.
  • A Voz de Macaísta (The Voice of the Macaense) – 1846. A political journal published weekly, it commenced under M.M. Dias Pegado.
  • Amigo do Progresso (The Friend of Progress) – 1850, a literary journal.
  • Verdade e Liberdade (Truth and Liberty) – 1852, a political paper edited by José Maria da Silva e Souza and printed at Noronha's.
  • Echo do Povo ( Voice of the People) – early 1860s. In 1862 it had three compositors. Published every second day, it served political as well as general news and lasted a few years.
  • O Impulso das Letras (The Advancement of Letters). Mainly literary in nature, it had a short life – 1 October 1865 to 1 September 1866.
  • O Noticiario Macaense (Macaense News) 1869 – political news.
  • O Independente (The Independent). It appeared by 1870. It lasted for about 10 years and disappeared due to the publisher being sued for libel.
  • Catholic – 1873. It contained political and religious news and comments
  • O Extreme Oriente (The Far East) and O Hongkong Alegre (Merry Hongkong) -founded around 1880.
  • O Echo da China (China Echo) – 1844, giving way by 1900 to O Porvir (The Future).
  • 1900 to 1914 O Patriota (The Patriot).
  • O Petardo (The Firecracker) – 1929.

The points worth noting about these papers were that three quarters of them were established in Hong Kong in the first three decades following the Opium War and that they did not last for long. This might reflect the increasing assimilation of the Macaenses from Macau into Hong Kong society resulting in a declining interest in Portuguese affairs and a general decline in the ability, especially among the younger generation, to read and write Portuguese. The decline in Portuguese language proficiency was borne out by the eventual fate of the Portuguese library and the apparent lack of enthusiasm for Portuguese language education among the younger generation.

75  South China Morning Post, 29 November 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 5, BRA/4004, 77-79.

Bibliotheca Portuguesa (Portuguese Library)

The Bibliotheca Portuguesa, founded on 27 June 1857, was the earliest of the Macaense institutions in Hong Kong. The establishment of this library reflected the desire to maintain and promote knowledge of the Portuguese language, its history and literature. Another library was established soon after called Bibliotheca Lusitana but both were later amalgamated. The catalogue of the two collections published in 1887 was said to consist of "not less than 3,859 volumes". It was claimed that no such library existed in Macau in those days, although St Joseph's Seminary College Macau was known to have a small selection.76 After the founding of the Lusitano Club, the Bibliotheca was housed there though not without contention between opposing factions in the community.77

The newspapers, library and language schools were seen as attempts to popularise the Portuguese language among the Hong Kong Macaense community. J.P.Braga wrote in the early 1940s:

It is almost pathetic, at the present day, to look back and observe the attempts made by [the early community elders] to preserve Portuguese influences among their children. ... Most of them knew little enough of the Portuguese language themselves – excepting for those among them who had had the good fortune to attend St Joseph's Royal College in Macao. ... In spite of efforts to get the younger Portuguese in Hongkong interested in the tongue of their forefathers ... every attempt ended in failure [because] there were other forces exerting contrary influences among the young Portuguese.78

76  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 3.

77  There was opposition to move the library to the Club Lusitano premises. Opponents refused to hand over the bookshelves. Finally common sense prevailed. When the Club Lusitano building was demolished and rebuilt in the early 1960s the decision was made to donate the English books to the Hong Kong City Hall library and the Portuguese books to the Geographic Society in Lisbon. Hongkong Standard, 10 June 1977, 16, "Horizons of adventurers".

78  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 2, 208ff.

Club Lusitano

Hong Kong's Club Lusitano, formed in 1865, remained the oldest Portuguese institution in a non-Portuguese territory in the Far East. The idea grew out of a need for a common meeting place for social gatherings and recreation. It was decided that a club house needed to be built. A site at Shelley Street was selected and community contributions were solicited. The foundation stone was laid on 26 December 1865. A year later, on 17 December 1866, the club building was officially opened by the Macau Governor, Brigadier José Rodrigues Coelho do Amaral. In time, the Shelley Street premises become crowded in by tall residential buildings leading to a decision to relocate. In 1919 A.M.L. Soares purchased a property in Ice House Street, in the heart of the commercial district. He offered it to the Club for the same price he paid for it, which was later accepted.

There was dissension over whether such an expensive property would be appropriate because it would tie up too much funds. It was debated whether it should be in Hong Kong, close to where most members were employed, or in Kowloon where most families were living. In the end, the majority were swayed by the argument that since the capital of Hong Kong was on the island, the community's club house had to be there also.

The Club building was completed in 1922. The old premises were sold but it did not raised sufficient funds so a loan was obtained from the bank. The servicing of the debt became such a burden that it was decided to approach the Macau Government for a loan. The then Governor Artur Tamagnini de Sousa Barbosa was sympathetic and upon his recommendation, the Minister for the Colonies in Lisbon gave his consent.79

For the Macaense community, the Club was more than just a meeting place. Over the years it hosted many distinguished Portuguese visitors from around the world such as His Grace Mateus de Oliveira Xavier, Archbishop of Goa in November 1924, the first visit by such an ecclesiastical dignitary.80 In September 1927, a lavish reception was held for Macau's Governor Barbosa when he visited Hong Kong with his wife and daughter.81 It was the venue for celebrating Portugal's National Day. On important occasions such as in January 1937 almost the entire community attended a reception in honour of J.P.Braga upon his retirement from Hong Kong's Legislative Council and his replacement by fellow Macaense, Leo d'Almada.82 Later in May 1937, it was elaborately decorated by the Macaense artist M.F. Baptista as part of the Hong Kong festivities marking the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.83 During World War II, the Club became a refuge, an oasis of neutrality as members of the community flocked to it for safety and to receive their share of the meagre rations that had been sent from Macau.84 J.P. Braga wrote that Club Lusitano had an imperial role to play:

History records that nearly every Portuguese official of note passing through Hongkong was given a reception at the Club Lusitano by the members of the community in Hongkong. The elders were keen that the younger generation might thereby be brought into closer contact with members of their race from Portugal [and] made to feel that they were part and parcel of Portugal in the Far East.85

79  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 3, 207-232.

80  South China Morning Post, 5 November 1924, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, BOX 1, BRA/3985. His full title was: "His Grace Mateus de Oliveira Xavier, Archbishop of Goa, Primate of the Orient, Patriarch of the Indies".

81  South China Morning Post, 26 September 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, BOX 1, BRA/3985, 96-104.

82  South China Morning Post, 29 January 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4018, 55.

83  South China Morning Post, 12 May 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 195.

84  In the early 1960s, the club premises were demolished and rebuilt and today it is a very expensive piece of real estate.

85  "Club Lusitano", BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 2, 209.

Club de Recreio and sports

According to the Braga Manuscripts, the idea for Club de Recreio had its origins on the ground floor of a private residence in Granville Road, Kowloon when a group of close friends sought a convenient place to meet each night to play cards and other forms of recreation. The room was provided rent-free by João Gomes, a clerk employed by the Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Company. As more and more Macaenses came to enjoy "the club", there was a need for bigger premises.86

Prior to forming a properly constituted club, a co-operative savings society was started in 1905 with nineteen members. The co-operative did so well that after fifteen months, it was wound up and the profits as well as the furniture were donated towards the formation of the club. Edward J. Noronha located premises owned by the Spanish Dominican religious order at the corner of Kimberley and Nathan Roads, Kowloon. As the Procurator and Noronha were friends, a lease was concluded on the condition that the club built its own premises which would revert to the landlord upon expiry of the lease.

A single storey building was constructed with a small bar, card room, billiard room and two outside tennis courts. For his efforts, Noronha was installed as the first president. The tennis courts encouraged members to participate in League competitions in Hong Kong and soon teams were formed for other sports such as soccer, then hockey and soft ball.

To accommodate the growing needs of the club, land was leased from the government at the King's Park Reservation, Kowloon in 1925. A bigger clubhouse was built in 1927 and it was officially opened by Governor Clementi on 4 February 1928.87

Sports had been an area where virtually all generations of Macaenses excelled and the dedication of arguably one of the best sports ground in Hong Kong for the exclusive use of the Macaense community provided a boost in sporting achievements. Many stories and memoirs referred to the community's impact on the Hong Kong sports scene in team events and in individual pursuits.

The Macaenses' contribution to participatory sports in Hong Kong was not confined to the Club de Recreio. Many were also active through the Victoria Recreation Club (VRC) which was considered the leading sports club at the time. Its membership was basically made up of British and Macaense residents keen on aquatics and rowing. On behalf of the VRC, two attempts were made in 1930 to set a rowing record from Hong Kong to Macau. The first attempt took place on 8 June when a group of four Macaenses rowed for eleven hours, ending just short of their final destination due to equipment failure and had to be towed in. The rowers were: H.R. Pinna, R.Silva Netto, C. Roza Pereira and J.M. das Neves. Nevertheless, they received a rousing welcome and a civic reception.88 The following month, a second rowing team undertook the same journey. This time they completed the course without assistance although it took them about fifteen hours. The rowers were: Luiz Soares, B. Gosano, H. Remedios, S. Souza and Francisco Silva89.

Inter-port sports tournaments bonded the young Macaenses. In the 1920s inter-port soccer games were conducted between Shanghai and Hong Kong. Games with Macau had begun much earlier (before World War I ) due to the close proximity. Starting with tennis tournaments, it soon included other games such as hockey and bridge. The significance of these tournaments was more than sportmanship. To young Macaenses from Hong Kong, such as J.M. Basto, the visits to Macau brought them in touch with their Portuguese heritage.90

Over the years, there had been suggestions that Club de Recreio and Club Lusitano should be amalgamated. Macau's Governor Barbosa raised this matter during his visit to Hong Kong in September 1927 at the reception given in his honour at Club Lusitano.91 The reasons why it never eventuated were uncovered in the Braga Manuscripts. One had to do with the divergent aims and objectives of both institutions; the other was over the control of Club Lusitano and its valuable real estate. Club Lusitano owned its land and premises whereas Club de Recreio's grounds were on short-term lease from the government. Generational differences also made their mark. J.P. Braga believed that only the older members of Club Lusitano "could be trusted to conduct its affairs and its external policies with riper judgement and better knowledge which junior men must be given time to acquire by experience."92

In the 1970s, in response to declining membership due to migration, Club de Recreio was thrown open to all community groups.93 Three years after the handover of Hong Kong, the board of directors of Club Lusitano embarked on a rebuilding program to modernize it for the twenty-first century. In so doing, it demonstrated its confidence in the future of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

86  South China Morning Post, 6 February 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 3.

87  Ibid.

88  South China Morning Post, 10 June 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 1.

89  South China Morning Post 15 July 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 3.

90  Interview with José M. Basto, Connecticut USA.

91  South China Morning Post, 26 September 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 96-104.

92  South China Morning Post, 6 February 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 3.

93  "Horizons of adventurers", Hongkong Standard, 10 June 1977, 16.

Associação Portuguesa de Socorros Mutuos

The driving force for the formation of this co-operative to help needy members was F.P. de Vasconcellos Soares. Funded through monthly subscriptions, the idea emulated the successful experiment amongst the Portuguese sugar cane plantation workers in Hawaii. An important element was an Education Fund to provide scholarships to children of members. It was boosted in the early period by a big endowment from A.M.L. Soares and the inception of the Ignez Soares Scholarship named after his wife. Unfortunately, its early years were marred by competing rivalries resulting in Soares being forced out from its administration when he had put in so much effort to get it going.94

Visiting dignitaries such as Macau's Governor Barbosa acknowledged it as an important institution.95 On 12 May 1930, the Hongkong Daily Press reported that the Society celebrated its fifteenth anniversary.96 Today, it future appeared uncertain due to dwindling membership.

94  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 3.

95  South China Morning Post, 26 September 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 96-104.

96  Hongkong Daily Press, 12 May 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4009, 116.

Civil defence volunteers

The Macaenses in Hong Kong served as members of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVdC) from the outset. In 1920s, there was a pressing need to bolster Hong Kong's civil defence through the recruitment of more volunteers due to the escalating tensions between Chinese nationalists and British interests in Shanghai and elsewhere in the mainland. The latest round of tension was precipitated by the calamitous 1925 May Thirtieth incident in Shanghai during which Chinese demonstrators were shot by the Municipal police, triggering labour strikes and riots in the various foreign settlements. In early 1927, anti-British riots in Hankou resulted in Chinese troops taking over the British Concession there.97 The Hankou seizure was viewed by the Shanghai paper, North China Herald, as the beginning of a deliberate campaign to eliminate foreign rights and privileges in China.98 It was this broader China scenario and the large number of recruits in 1927 that enabled the Portuguese Company of the Hong Kong Volunteer Corps to come into existence, organised along similar lines to Shanghai's.

When the Portuguese Company of the Hong Kong Volunteer Corps gathered at Club Lusitano for their annual dinner to commemorate their tenth anniversary in 1937, it boasted over two hundred men and officers. At the dinner, its British commanding officer, Major Jarvis proudly reported that the attendance at parade was good with an average of ninety-two percent, while its attendance at camp was perfect at one hundred percent.99 The annual camps were occasions when the volunteers would go away for two weeks for training and military exercises. At the outbreak of World War II in Hong Kong, the men were mobilised and many were subsequently interned by the Japanese following Hong Kong's surrender.

Another area in which the community served with distinction was in the Police and Police Auxiliary. M.A.F.M. de Sousa ("Mickey") was one of many Macaenses who served in the Police Auxiliary. Now retired to a coastal community south of Sydney Australia, Mickey Sousa emigrated with his family following the disturbances of the Cultural Revolution in Hong Kong.100 Born in 1909, Mickey joined the police when he was a young man following in his father's footsteps. He did street patrol as a young constable and recalled that opium was a big problem in Hong Kong in those days, especially in the alleyways of Yaumati and Shamshuipo. Having served in various capacities with the Hong Kong Police from 3 March 1930 to 12 February 1965, he retired having reached the age limit. His final post was as Commanding Officer of the Auxiliary Police Emergency Units. Upon his retirement, he received a commendation from the Police Commissioner for outstanding service stating that "there are few persons who can claim such a long association with the Auxiliary Police, or indeed the Regular Force." 101

When World War II came and Japanese forces invaded Kowloon, the Police Auxiliary served alongside regular soldiers patrolling the waterfront at night, in case the Japanese troops attempted to land. Following the surrender to the Japanese, the Macaense members of the Police Auxiliary were interned but Mickey Sousa managed to escape. Eventually he made his way to Macau where he worked as Paymaster and First Assistant Accountant at the British consulate as well as gathering intelligence for the British. In Macau, under cover of darkness, he was responsible for the daring rescue of the American naval pilot Lt. George W. Clark and two of his crewmen from Japanese controlled waters. At the end of the war, he was selected as part of the Hong Kong contingent to march in the Victory Parade in London and was awarded service and meritorious medals on several occasions.

The service contribution of Macaenses like Mickey Sousa was all the more remarkable when one considered that these volunteer services were carried out whilst performig their obligations to their employers in order to support their growing families. Clearly the leaders of the Macaense community felt it had to do its part in meeting the recruitment targets set down for them. Many of them felt that in times of war and other emergencies, it was their duty to respond such as the time when Mickey Sousa was approached to rescue the American airmen knowing full well it could be a trap. He expressed it thus in the interview I had with him:

I never dreamt they [American consulate in London] would write, thanking me for rescuing Lt. George W. Clark and two of his crewmen. That day, it could have been a set up. I was young but I had to go. The mere fact that they rang me up at 2.30am and asked me to come proved that the British Consulate, the Portuguese Police Commissioner [in Macau], even the Governor of Macau at that time, felt I was okay. I could say, 'I won't go', but how could I refuse? I could never live it down. I'm lucky I went and did save their lives.

The interaction of various demands such as business, work, sports and obligations to Hong Kong and their Macaense community could be seen through the family of José Luiz de Selasia Alves who passed away in 1927 aged seventy-nine.102 Described as the "grand old man" of the Macaense community in Hong Kong, Alves was amongst the earliest settlers in the Colony who came from Macau as a very young man. With a knowledge of the English language, he found employment at the Harbour Office, rising to the position of Chief Clerk from which he retired. He was very interested in outdoor sports and was a prominent member of the Victoria Recreation Club. A keen advocate of the teaching of the Portuguese language, he was one of several founders of Club Lusitano in 1866. In his long career, he had been honoured by the Portuguese government.

His older brother, João Miguel Alves, was also in government service having retired as the Chief Clerk in the Colonial Secretary's office. He was described as intensely patriotic and meticulous about speaking grammatically-correct Portuguese.103 An original shareholder of the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation, J.M. Alves continued to showed great interest in investing in the public companies, including being a director on the board of the Hongkong, Canton and Macau Steamboat Company.104

José L. Alves set an example in loyalty to Hong Kong. During World War I when Police Auxilliary Reserve was formed, he supported it by enlisting his two sons. His youngest son, ELS Alves, joined up and fought in Europe. All the Alves boys had been members of the Hong Kong Volunteer Corps from young. His eldest son, 'Jack' Alves, was a founding member of the International Race Club in Shanghai. Jack was said to race his own ponies and participated in cross country hunts.105

Another son, Alvaro Alvares Alves was a well-known Macaense business member. He was a member of the Hong Kong contingent that participated in the coronation parade of King Edward VII in London in 1902. He commenced his career with a German bank, the Deutsche-Asiatische Bank until it was closed as a result of World War I. Later he became a stock broker, eventually gaining membership to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. For a long time, he was a committee member of Victoria Recreation Club where he was a keen rower and participated in water polo, gymnastics and weightlifting. The Club honoured him by electing him to life membership before he passed away in June 1937 at age sixty.106

97  Bickers, Britain in China, 3-4 & Times Weekly, 20 January 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4011, 98.

98  North China Herald, 12 March 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4011, 135.

99  South China Morning Post, 12 April 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 2, BRA/3990, 94.

100  Although retired from the Hong Kong Police Auxiliary by then, due to his experience, he was recalled for temporary duty to take charge of riot control.

101  Letter from H.W.E. Heath, Commissioner of Police, Hong Kong, dated 17 February 1965, in Mickey Sousa's possession.

102  Hongkong Telegraph, 11 July 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 11, BRA/4025, 14.

103  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 3.

104  Braga, The Portuguese in Hongkong and China, 237.

105  Hongkong Telegraph, 11 July 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 11, BRA/4025, 14.

106  South China Morning Post, 4 June 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4017, 225


Comparisons between the various places

The survey of the Macaense communities in China during the period between the Opium War and the Cold War invited comparison between the various locales. From the time when Shanghai and Hong Kong were open to foreign settlement, there had been a kind of friendly rivalry between these two places and Macau. As time went on, it became increasingly clear that Macau lagged behind while the other two surged ahead.

Today, older members of the Macaense diaspora reminisced excitedly about the friendly rivalry between these centres of Western influences in the Far East. With the arrival of the flying boats and modern aviation, it seemed that Macau might steal a march against Hong Kong when Pan-American Airways chose it for their regional hub following the collapse of talks with the British Government.107 However, Macau was to be disappointed when Pan-American changed its mind following a British change of heart for fear that Hong Kong would left behind in the new technological age. In August 1936, it was reported that Hong Kong, not Macau, would be its base on the China coast.108

Before the advent of commercial flight, the sea journey to Shanghai from Hong Kong took several days and risked being attacked by pirates. Even the relatively short trip from Macau to Hong Kong was not free of the menace. It was not unusual for guns to be carried and ships compartmentalised as a security precaution.109 The arrival of the first flying boat in Hong Kong on 24 March 1936 changed the situation dramatically.110 By the end of the year, if one dared to fly, the China National Aviation Corporation had an air service that departed from Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 7:30AM. Powered by four propeller engines, the flying boat promised a speedy trip of only seven hours.111

Hong Kong was separated from Shanghai not only by distance but by a different mindset, governance and security. This was evident from the many articles published in the Hong Kong papers in the 1930s. An American who had visited both places many times over a period of twenty years considered Hong Kong as "the best governed spot in this part of the world". He did not want to live in Shanghai because of the kidnappings, robberies and frequent murders in broad daylight. Shanghai seemed to be a place where compradors and other wealthy men needed to have two or three armed Russian guards with them in their motor cars, offices and at home.112 In Shanghai, personal security was at such risk that people hesitated to travel on outside roads after dusk for fear of robbery and kidnapping.113

The physical attributes of both places were also compared. Some visitors to Hong Kong were enchanted by the surrounding hills whereas Shanghai was flat. Another person who had lived in Shanghai for ten years enjoyed Hong Kong's many beautiful beaches and idyllic spots. However, he hankered after the entertainments available in Shanghai by night. The city had "... a nightlife second to none and comparable with anything encountered in the world. One, if one so desires, need never go to bed for the customary period. There is always somewhere to go."114

An editorial in the South China Morning Post 12 August 1935 alluded to different preoccupations: the Shanghai mindset was "more materialistic and domineering" while the "Hong Kong mind [was] principally obsessed with the safety and welfare of Hong Kong". Moreover, there were different approaches towards China.115

Residents who had lived for long periods in both places observed a difference in cosmopolitism between the two. Despite the strength of the British settler mentality in Shanghai and the fact that British interests dominated its Municipal Council, Shanghai was acknowledged as more cosmopolitan than Hong Kong. It had none of Hong Kong's perceived British colonial snoberry, frequently alluded to by former members of the Hong Kong Macaense community.116 Speaking to a British journalist, Lord Kadoorie, whose family fortune was established in Shanghai and a prominent business identity in Hong Kong, put the difference in a nutshell:

Shanghai was international with people who had an international outlook. Hong Kong was very British. Who were the British? They were small shopkeepers in their mentality. It was a nice quiet little place. ... If Shanghai was London then Hong Kong was Hastings."117

Kadoorie's view was echoed by John Luff, the headmaster of the British School in Shanghai in the late 1940s who later settled in Hong Kong. Luff made a veiled attack on the British in Hong Kong when he wrote: "The [foreign] community in Shanghai mixed better, there was a better feeling of comradeship, and there was nothing stuffy about the majority of the people.118

The preoccupation with making comparisons highlighted the reality that Macau was out of contention economically and in international standing. For Macau, the 1920s and 1930s were difficult times when the gambling industry that provided the bulk of the government's revenue underwent massive restructuring – affected by the prolonged world economic depression, too many gaming products and political pressures exerted by the New Life Movement spreading through southern China.119 Modern games such as roulette had arrived in Macau to challenge the traditional game of fan tan. In September 1931, horse racing was inaugurated by the Macau Jockey Club. And there were plans to introduce greyhound racing. By 1934, horse racing was blamed for the failure of the once popular Santa Casa lottery to attract any bids to operate it. That same year, the fan tan monopoly collapsed with fifteen months of its five-year term remaining. The reasons given for the collapse were economic depression and competition from Shenzhen.124 In the same year, the government granted monopoly rights to modern casino gambling to Tai Xing Company whose first casinos were located inside the Central Hotel.125 In 1936-37, the gaming industry in Macau experienced a revival as more operators and gamblers came to Macau due to the suppression of gambling in surrounding districts such as Canton, Shameen, Shantou and Shenzhen. The suppression was a direct result of the activities of the New Life Movement and the Guangdong Provincial Gambling Suppression Commission.126 The gambling business continued unabated in Macau right through the Sino-Japanese War and World War II. During World War II, the casinos supplied the cash when the banks did not have sufficient to service the needs of the British consulate in Macau.127

However, for the Macaense communities, Macau remained a very important part of their world. When war engulfed the cities of China in the decade following 1937, many Macaenses and other nationals looked to Macau as a place of refuge. How Macau opened its doors to them and helped them in their period of need formed the subject of the next chapter.

107  It raised the hope that: "Macao should now be able to get ahead in the matter of prosperity which it had once held." The Canton Truth, 14 September 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 2, BRA/3990, 6-7.

1087  Hong Kong Telegraph, 14 August 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 6, BRA/4007, 19-20.

109  Japan Advertiser, 1 June 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, BOX 1, BRA/3985, 120. Oland D. Russell, an American from Missouri reported that on the Hong Kong-Macau ferry the Captain carries guns, the Indian guards carry guns and even the prostitutes on board carry guns. The English Captain said: "The pirates are bad in here and we have to take every precaution. A few months ago, they boarded this ship and killed the captain and two Indian guards". Another description can be found in the article, "Around the World I Go" in Ladies' Home Journal, March 1927, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, BOX 1, BRA/3985, 147-151: "I went to Macao in a neat flat bottomed little steamer, divided not into water-tight but bomb-proofed compartments. The engines were fenced off with substantial steel grilles, the second class deck was shut off from the first by a padlocked steel door and the navigating officers were shut away in a bullet-proof wheelhouse and further protected by armed Sikh guards."

110  Hongkong was linked with the outside world by airmail with the arrival of the Imperial Airways liner, Dorado. Airmail service commenced and passenger service began the following week. "Summary of year's event", in The Hongkong Telegraph, 31 December 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3999.

110  Advertisement: "Shanghai – Now in 7 hours only!", The Hongkong Telegraph, 31 December 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3999. Today, the air journey took just over two hours.

110  "Beautiful Hongkong – British and Best", South China Morning Post, 26 March 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4009, 75.

110  South China Morning Post, 12 July 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 7, BRA/4009, 173.

110  Ibid.

110  This different mindset between the two places represented different approaches in dealing with China, particularly emergent Chinese nationalism and the demand for an end to extraterritorality. This was one of the themes identitified by Bickers in Britain in China as the difference between the British official policy and British settler mentality so prevalent in Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s. The editorial argued that Hong Kong and not Shanghai should be the headquarters of British policy in the Far East. South China Morning Post, 12 August 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 163 & Bickers, Britain in China, 3.

110  McDougall, M., "Life in an Outport: Swatow before Pearl Harbour, Part 1", Lusitano Club, Vol. 2, Book 3, September 15, 1993.

110  Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 46.

110  "Winter of Discontent", The China Mail Hongkong, 15 March 1958, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 23, Folder 4, 13.

110  China Truth, 26 September 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3997, 76.

120  Japan Advertiser, 8 June 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, BOX 1, BRA/3985, 121.

121  South China Morning Post, 7 September 1931, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 10, BRA/4023, 64.

122  Sunday Star, 20 December 1931, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 10, BRA/4023, 67.

123  South China Morning Post, 29 May 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 156.

124  South China Morning Post, 6 September 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 168.

125  Gunn, Encountering Macau, 87ff.

126  South China Morning Post, 18 September 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3997, 76, China Truth, 26 September 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3997, 76 & South China Morning Post, 12 October 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/3997, 80.

127  Mickey Sousa interview. In view of the large numbers of payments to be processed, the monthly allowance was staggered for administrative and practical reasons. Sometimes the Portuguese bank, Banca Ultramarino, did not have sufficient cash to meet the Consulate's needs. In such eventuality, the Consulate turned to the casinos for assistance.


The ceding of Hong Kong to Britain in the wake of the Opium War was to have a profound effect on the Macaenses who went over to Hong Kong in droves. In the process, they established a Macaense community that became the largest, the most British and, some claimed, the most vibrant community outside of Macau. Like their compatriots in Shanghai and elsewhere, the Hong Kong Macaenses were prominent as clerks, administrators, book-keepers and accountants for the government departments, the banks, insurance companies and virtually all the major firms. Before the Chinese and Westerners could understand each other's language or respect the differences in culture, the Macaenses were the mediators, transcending the cultural and linguistic barriers on both sides. Their sporting achievements and their eagerness to volunteer for the community and civil defence services were one of the many visible features of the community. Many succeeded in business and the professions while not a few sought out careers in the field of education, the religious orders and other charity organisations. Their leaders were selected to participate in all the important institutions of the British colony; their services recognised by the British government in the form of honours and awards. Above all, they were loyal to Hong Kong, a feature that was clearly demonstrated in the private papers of the Braga Manuscripts and pointed out in secret government dispatches.128 In the post-1949 period, the Hong Kong Macaense community became the crucible in which Macaenses from the various communities blended to lay the foundations for a stronger more unified community.

128  Source CO882/31, 25 August 1949, Dispatch No. 28 in Tsang (ed.), 85-88.


The Decade of War

Retreat and integration of the Macaense communities

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, China's history was peppered with one war after another – civil wars and wars with foreign powers over opium or against imperialism. In the history of the Macaenses in China, with the exception of the Opium War (1839-1842), there was no greater upheaval than that experienced during the decade of war beginning with the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 to the Communist victory in 1949. The disintegration of foreign communities in China was a defining moment for the Macaense communities as the Shanghai and Hong Kong Macaenses retreated to Macau for refuge and then to Hong Kong for jobs.

In this chapter, we surveyed the decade of war that compelled the Macaenses to leave Mainland China and how it impacted the development of the Macaense communities. Following the events of 1949, many opted to leave China entirely and headed for other countries, especially the United States. In the process they became the first wave of Macaense pioneers in those new countries. For those that remained in Hong Kong and Macau, it was a period of recovery from the traumas of war and integration of the three main Macaense communities.

1937 – Macaense refugees from Shanghai

The outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 saw Beijing and other major Chinese cities fell to the Japanese in rapid succession, causing many Macaenses to leave the mainland for Macau for refuge. Although the conflict technically did not affect the extraterritorial status of the international settlements, the fighting severely disrupted business and the supply of foodstuffs. In Shanghai where the warehouses were located in Japanese controlled areas, the Shanghai Municipal Council had to obtain permits from the Japanese to gain access. When permission had been granted, other logistical difficulties hampered operations. In one instance in September 1937, permission was given for the removal of 787 truckloads of foodstuffs but only 26 truckloads were successfully carried due to insufficient time and the shortage of trucks.1 Further problems were posed by the huge influx of foreigners and locals from nearby areas; amongst them were the many Macaenses who had lived in Japanese controlled Hongkew. In order to alleviate the housing and food shortages, it was decided to repatriate them to Hong Kong and Macau where possible.

In August 1937 the South China Morning Post reported the imminent arrival of over one thousand Macaense refugees from war-stricken Shanghai in the French steamer The Aramis in Hong Kong where a reception committee had already been formed. Sr. Laborinho, the Consul-General for Portugal in Hong Kong, said that more were on the way and that the Hong Kong Macaense community would accommodate their relatives as best they could while the rest would proceed to Macau.2

In Macau, due to the turmoil in China, thousands of Chinese refugees were already pouring in daily so accommodation was scarce. There were already two official refugee centres housing Chinese refugees, one in Coloane, the other in nearby Tsinshan district. To cater for these Chinese refugees, the Macau government formed two Refugee Relief Committees, both chaired by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Macau with Jack Braga as secretary. The committees had several Chinese members and Pedro Lobo, a prominent Macaense public servant, represented the Macau government. Financial assistance had been obtained from the Chinese government for the care of these refugees.3 In addition to the designated centres, many church properties in surrounding districts in China became de facto refuges as many Chinese believed that being foreign owned, they would be safe there. The Braga Manuscripts contained the minutes of one committee meeting that revealed the predicament facing the civil and religious authorities in Macau. The bishop reported that he had sent his personal emissary to the Japanese Consul-General in Canton to ask the Japanese to "respect" mission properties in southern China. The Consul-General was unable to give special treatment for refuge centres inside the missions. Furthermore the Bishop was informed that the Japanese Government would not recognise any refugee centres except the one already recognised in Shanghai.4

The influx of refugees stretched the meagre resources of the Macau government. Because the prices of essential goods were increasing of late, the government helped the local merchants to stock up but at the same time imposed price controls on certain essential products. Resources were also needed to cater for another warship due soon from Portugal to bolster Macau's defence.5 Nevertheless, the newly arrived Macaenses from Shanghai were duly accommodated. Premises like the Macau Club and the Infantry Barracks were converted into refuge centres and ferry boats that took shelter in Macau, like the Tung Shan, were commandeered as lodgings.6 For many Shanghai Macaenses, their stay was short. When the bombings stopped and conditions returned to normal, most returned to Shanghai to resume their livelihood.7

1  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 8, BRA/4012, 121, 28 September 1937.

2  South China Morning Post, 20 August 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 2, BRA/3990, 121.

3  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 15, Envelope 38.

4  Ibid. Shanghai was an important international centre with extraterritorial rights, whereas the church properties in surrounding districts near Macau were in Chinese territories. When the Japanese took control, it would be treated accordingly.

5  South China Morning Post, 20 August 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 2, BRA/3990, 121.

6  During a recent visit in March 1999, Macau's Maritime Museum had a scale model of the "Tung Shan" on display with a plaque attesting to the above. South China Morning Post, 25 August 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 2, BRA/3990, 121.

7  Gutterres' statement, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 16, Envelope 53.

World War II

With the outbreak of World War II in China, Macau proclaimed neutrality but Hong Kong came under Japanese control. Elsewhere in Portuguese Timor, the declaration of neutrality proved ineffective as the Japanese staged a military takeover and interned the Portuguese Governor. Understandably Macau feared that it would meet with the same fate.8 According to the British Consul in Macau, Pownall Reeves, the reason this did not eventuate was entirely due to one man – the Macau governor:

Only the clever diplomacy of Governor Teixeira saved Macao from being dragged into the war. She had most narrow shaves and sometimes fighting actually lapped across the shores of this single island of peace in the Far East. ... We have enjoyed a shelter granted to no other community in a war-torn East. No one of us who have been driven from our homes by war, whether from Chinese or British territory can ever forget what has been done for us and for our families in Macao. ... We can freely offer our gratitude to His Excellency Commander Gabriel Teixeira, who himself a sailor, has steered the Colony through storms, avoiding reefs and shoals alike with uncanny skill. His ship is safely in port and we thank him for his Captaincy. Without it we would have been lost on uncharted seas.9

In the course of the war, the Japanese became increasingly aggressive in dealing with Macau demanding formal recognition of its puppet government in nearby Zhongshan county and insisting on being allowed to conduct house to house searches in Macau.10 It was a blessing for many that Macau's neutrality was recognised as people of many nationalities had taken refuge there. An exhibit in the new Macau Museum showed that in 1937 at the start of the Sino-Japanese War, Macau's population numbered some 150,000. However, in 1943, it was estimated that 500,000 people crowded into the small enclave. The exhibit also recorded that Macau's generosity extended beyond its borders to some 17,000 refugees in nearby Sek-kei and that at its worst period, one hundred Chinese died each day on the streets of Macau from exhaustion, hunger and dysentery.11

João Bosco da Silva, a member of the Macaense diaspora in Brazil, was a youngster in Macau during World War II. He recalled walking the streets and seeing a lot of people dying especially in winter due to starvation. Luckily his father was working for the government; every day they had their ration of rice and sugar that enable them to survive. He considered that they were the lucky ones.12

Most people agreed that hunger was the chief problem in Macau during World War II. Monsignor Manuel Teixeira was a parish priest during that period. While Macau's civil servants managed on meagre rations, he remembered that the worst affected were the Chinese refugees who died of hunger in the streets. He recalled that "Japanese soldiers would come to Macau to enjoy themselves. In the Hotel Kuok Chai (Grande Hotel) they would drink, eat and enjoy the girls. They would then leave dead drunk and throw up in the streets. The starving Chinese picked up the vomit and ate it."13

The arrival of the Macaenses from Hong Kong following its surrender strained the available services even more. According to Armando da Silva, the first wave of refugees from Hong Kong arrived on the Japanese ferry boat Surigane Maru on 6 February 1942. For those who could not stay with relatives, refuge centres were allocated to them. The two community leaders Leo d'Almada and J.P. Braga personally selected the group that was to be housed at the Hotel Bela Vista. Armando's father was most fortunate to be chosen to stay in the famous hotel with some of the top Macaense families from Hong Kong.14 So too were Gloria de Souza and her mother.15

In one of Jack Braga's radio broadcast, he asked one of the early arrivees to give a talk to urge more Macaenses to leave Hong Kong for the safety of Macau. The radio message was located among the Braga Manuscripts but the speaker's identity could not be determined except that he was from Kowloon and that he came with nine hundred others on the Surigane Maru.16 The account recorded that the Japanese officers on board were really nice to them. On arrival, the Governor of Macau was at the pier to greet them. They were "well housed with two solid meals a day, and a loaf of bread for breakfast provided by the Salesian fathers". Centres that had been set aside for the Macaense refugees were Clube de Macau, Escola Luso-Chinesa, Grêmio Militar, Clube 1 de Junho, Caixa Escolar, Penha and No 7 Rua do Barão (generously provided for their by the owner of the house). A government medical officer regularly visited the centres for health checks. Employment was available with the police, the government-controlled commodity centres and through odd jobs. Teams were organised to participate in sports and classes were arranged for the children's education. There was a brass band and orchestra to provide entertainment. The general feeling was that "we do not feel lost or idle".17 Refugees from Hong Kong received $30 per head for each adult and $24 for each child, on top of lodgings and food and health care. This caused Jack Braga to realise that the employees of the Macau Water Company, where he was the manager, were really worse off financially compared to the refugees. He wrote to senior management to rectify the situation, which they did to some extent.18

Indeed for the refugees from Hong Kong, there were many distractions and activities. Schools were organised to occupy the children while adults pursued more grown-up activities. There were public debates, cinemas, mahjong and card games, plays and work if one was lucky to find one. Mickey Sousa found work in the British consulate and in intelligence gathering for Jack Braga. Gloria de Souza was then only a young girl. Like other youngsters, she went to school and was fortunate to be invited to the governor's residence for a meal and to children's parties hosted by the British consul.

The Macaense who took refuge in Macau were not immune from petty crimes such as that experienced by C.H. Chaves and family from Hong Kong. In a letter dated 15 February 1944, Chaves asked Jack Braga for a loan of a suit for a few days to go to the British consulate to seek financial assistance to buy some clothing. He had a wife and seven children and their clothes were all stolen. He concluded: "Really my dear Jack, I have taken this bold step because I know of your qualities and your good heartedness as I have tried everywhere but of no avail and you are my last resource."19 In view of Jack Braga's generous reputation, it was likely that Chaves would not be disappointed.20

Although refuge in Macau was preferable to Japanese-occupied Hong Kong, not all Macaenses made the journey. One who stayed behind was F.P. de V. Soares ("Frank"). J.P. Braga wrote about him, his intense loyalty to Portugal and the enthusiasm he brought to all his projects such as the formation of the Associação Portuguesa de Socorros Mutuos and land development in Homantin and Kowloon Tong.21 However, it was in his capacity as Chancellor-in-charge at the Portuguese Consulate in Hong Kong at the outbreak of World War II that won him the admiration of the Macaense community. Braga wrote:

A situation of unprecedented difficulty was created for him without previous warning and with a minimum of material resources and a lamentable deficiency of professional personnel. He had thrust upon him duties and responsibilities unparalleled in their magnitude and of the most complex nature.22

Also thrust upon him was the wellbeing of several thousand Hong Kong Macaenses who in normal times were well able to look after themselves but were suddenly rendered vulnerable and destitute. His private residence was converted momentarily into a cramped consular office and refuge centre. At one stage there were about four hundred people staying overnight inside the premises, all requiring to be fed. Soares freely provided Portuguese documents to enable many to leave for the safety of Macau. He and his family stayed behind in Hong Kong because the Japanese had interned his sons for being part of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps. Those that remained not only had to find the means to survive but also to fend off gangs of looters who preyed on people and property.23

In Shanghai, many Macaenses also remained put believing that the city would fare better due to the presence of other Western powers, and the fact that the French Concession, where many Macaenses lived, was exempt from Japanese control. Nery had written about the Shanghai scene during World War II and his story was consistent with one provided by Michael McDougall, a prominent member of the Macaense diaspora now resident in California, USA.24 McDougall arrived from Shantou in 1942 with his parents and three siblings en route to Mozambique as part of an international prisoner exchange between the Allied and Axis powers. Although technically internees, they were allowed to seek private accommodation in Shanghai pending the arrival of the ship which was to take them to Mozambique. As British subjects, they were able to draw on the generous financial assistance provided by the British Government through the Swiss Consul-General. The assistance was a "loan" repayable after the war. In the McDougalls' case the father's employer, Jardine Matheson & Company, took responsibility for the loan which was sufficiently indulgent for McDougall to consider themselves to be well off. They were able to go out to restaurants and movies and to stock up on other luxuries. Furthermore, the Japanese allowed "enemy nationals" to withdraw two thousand Chinese dollars a month out of their "frozen accounts". Because there were no restrictions on their movement, they had time and opportunity to catch up with many old friends from the Macaense community in Shanghai. To the McDougalls, Shanghai appeared very vibrant and deceptively normal, with shops, restaurants and markets still open for business. Open too were the entertainment places, gambling and nightlife that gave Shanghai its reputation. In contrast "enemy firms" were forced to close by the Japanese authorities, their bank accounts frozen and their employees discharged.25

It was a sad day for the Macaense community when J.P. Braga passed away in Macau on 12 February 1944. Not only did it rob them of one of their more prominent members, it interrupted his compilation of the history of the Macaenses in Hong Kong that he commenced barely two years earlier. The letters of condolence reflected J.P. Braga's standing in the community and attested to how much he "had done for Hong Kong".26 Jack, his son, felt the loss most keenly as the father was staying with him and they collaborated on the history project. Jack Braga expressed his deep loss in a letter to his brother in California two Christmases later.27

By 1945 it became apparent that the Japanese were in retreat. Some Hong Kong Macaenses participated in the drafting of a comprehensive plan to regain Hong Kong in case the Japan withdrew prematurely exposing it to a takeover by Chiang Kai-shek before British forces could reach the Colony. Jack Braga notated: "A great deal of time went into the discussions and some rivalry became apparent in the selection of the individuals chosen for the various assignments".28 It was a lot of paper work that led to naught as London had its own plans drawn up. In his note, Jack Braga did not intimate that he was behind the idea but a letter written by "Larry" dated 4 April 1946 clearly credited him with the idea for the project.29

From Macau, Jack Braga was also busy managing a network of informants that included Mickey Sousa.30 Their task was to obtain information about the Japanese in any way they could and passed them to the British at Allied headquarters. Braga reported to the British Consul Reeves who was the Macau chief for the British Army Aid Group (B.A.A.G.) which helped British escapees to flee from Japanese controlled areas and was responsible for the safe repatriation of the American airmen Lt. George C. Clarke, Don E. Mize and Charles Myers who were shot down by the Japanese in the vicinity of Macau.31

Jack Braga's contribution to the Allied cause during World War II was mentioned in a reference offered by Pownall Reeves, the British Consul in Macau dated 24 July 1946:

I am pleased to testify to the services rendered by Mr José Maria (Jack) Braga to the Allied governments…He acted as liaison between myself and the Nationalist Government of China's representative in Macao; he was instrumental in effecting the escape from Macao of four American airmen; he provided guards for my Consulate; I am in a position to know that he provided much useful information to Allied authorities. It is perhaps enough to say that his life was at one time threatened by the Japanese.32

And in a personal note to Jack Braga, Reeves wrote: "I will say little personally; some things cannot be put into words".33

Many letters in the Braga Manuscripts alluded to the great disappointment of many people about the lack of recognition and reciprocity given to those who risked their lives for the Allied cause. A Eurasian named Cotton wrote to Braga complaining bitterly:

I cannot help being bitter, more so, when I gaze around and see people who have collaborated and made money under the Japs are in favoured positions. ... When I look back to those anxious days ... I hate to think what would have happened to my wife and kiddies, had the Japs walked in and discovered the half ton of radio equipment in my house.34

The Chinese fisherman, Pang Meng, who rescued the American airmen Lt. George C. Clarke and crew sought help after the war but was ignored by both the British and the Americans. On 1 December 1945, four months after the Japanese surrender, Braga still had men on intelligence work who were expecting help with employment for their years of underground service. They expected their pay to continue, as they had not been terminated officially. Because the British had forgotten about them and the Americans did not want to know, Jack Braga continued to pay them out of his own resources until he could no longer sustain the financial burden.35He wrote many letters to various people to help find jobs for these men and testimonials for those who helped the Allied cause including Mickey Sousa.36

Jack Braga expressed his disappointment in a letter in 1946 to his friend C.R. Boxer:

I have lost everything in doing this [underground] work. The cost of living was so terribly high and so many agents had to get help, for the sake of the information they were securing, that all my money went in the good cause. Looking back I am not sorry, but the utter indifference shown by the Hong Kong officers to all our work shocks me thoroughly.37

He was to be disappointed further in another arena. Having achieved rather good marks to gain entry into the University of Hong Kong, his two daughters were told by the Education Department that "[because] the Bragas have plenty of money they need not apply [for scholarships]." Braga complained to the Director of Education on 5 November 1946 and to the Colonial Secretary on 29 November 1946, citing the reason that "I lost a considerable sum in keeping myself and my family alive, besides money spent in services for the Allied cause". His pleading was to no avail when the Education Department informed Braga that his daughters' results did not warrant the grant of a scholarship.38 This refusal must have appeared all the more incomprehensible to Braga when two months later, he received a letter from Government House, Hong Kong reading: "I am directed by His Excellency the Governor to express his thanks to you for restoring to Government House a number of photographs of former governors of the Colony which had been in your father's safe-keeping during the war."39

Of all the letters that Jack Braga received about World War II, perhaps the most desperate were the ones from Lourenco Oswaldo de Senna. There were three letters from de Senna dated 16 May 1946, 24 May 1946 and 24 June 1946. De Senna was arrested in Kunming for being a Japanese spy on 16 December 1944 together with his family. Tortured for two days, then imprisoned awaiting trial, de Senna was told by the judge that if he could get a letter from Jack Braga or Consul Reeves testifying that he was not a spy at all but was "of use" to the British Consul in Macau, then he would be set free. Jack Braga appeared not to have responded to him because two years later, de Senna's case was taken up by the Consul-General of Portugal in Shanghai, Armando Lopo Simeao. The Consul-General wrote twice on 19 November and 18 December 1948 pleading with Braga to write the testimonial in favour of de Senna. He had been left in prison due to lack of evidence to prosecute him and lack of evidence to release him. Braga appeared not to have responded to the Consul-General either.40

8  Gunn, Encountering Macau, 120-130.

9  English supplement, Notícias de Macao, 27 May 1951, compiled by Jack Braga. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 8.

10  Shipp, Macau, China, 81.

11  Macau Museum, exhibit viewed in March 1999.

12  Interview with J.B. da Silva who left Macau for Hong Kong in 1957 before emigrating with his family to Brazil.

13  It was a time when human conditions sank to unimaginable depths: "Children were fattened up in hotels and then killed and cooked. A local judge, a very good Catholic man, told me [Father Texeira] one day that he had been to one of those restaurants where human flesh was served. He had eaten it and liked it." Coutinho, "Monsignor Macau" in Macau Special 94, pp 145-159.

14  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume III, 647-648.

15  Gloria Patricia Maria (de Souza) Neale currently resides in New Zealand with her family.

16  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 15, Envelope 38.

17  Ibid.

18  Ibid.

19  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 15, Envelope 40.

20  Jack Braga's generosity, sometimes at the expense of his own family, was a recurring subject of admonition by his father, J.P.Braga, as revealed in the letters exchanged between them during the period. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 43, Folder 2.

21  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 3.

22  Ibid.

23  Interview with J.B. Correa, grandson of Frank Soares, of Melbourne, Australia,.

24  Nery, Filho de Macau.

25  McDougall, M., "A filho de Macau family Odyssey 1942-46 – Part 1", Lusitano Club Vol. 3, Book 3, 15 September 1994, California.

26  The letters from Sir Robert Ho Tung and Mrs Rhoda Reeves, wife of British consul are reproduced in full in the appendix.

27  Letter from Jack Braga to brother Paul and his wife Audrey, dated 24 December 1945. "... Tomorrow will be Christmas, but there is a great deal missing. It is as sad as that terrible Christmas when Hongkong fell, for although Peace has come there is much that has gone. Most of all do we miss the presence of father, who should, more than anybody else have survived to see this day. His absence has made it a difficult Christmas, while the prices being asked for even the simplest things are making it impossible to do anything." BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 6.

28  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 17, Envelope 60.

29  Letter to Jack Braga from Larry: "The Rehabilitation Scheme and the adoption of the Hong Kong Planning Unit's Scheme which with few modifications has little, if anything, over yours. I was reviewing the chart which you had drawn in Macao and the more I looked at it the more chagrin I felt that your brain-child was not accepted." BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 1.

30  Mickey Sousa interview.

31  Pang Meng was the Chinese fisherman responsible for finding the Americans. The story of how Pang hid the Americans and made contact with the British consulate was told by Jack Braga. This was the same rescue that Mickey Sousa was involved in. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 8.

32  There were only three Americans rescued. The Consul's recollection was wrong in this instance.

33  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 23, Envelope 1.

34  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 17, Folder 59.

35  Ibid.

36  Ibid. Mickey Sousa had in his possession a "provisional certificate" from Jack Braga testifying that Mickey "was associated with me [Braga] and others in Macao engaged in work on behalf of the Allies from 1942 to 1945, getting information regarding Japanese activities and helping Allied subjects to escape to Free China. A certificate in respect of these services will be supplied by the Government of China at a later date." Braga signed the certificate as "Deputy in Charge of Underground". To this day, Mickey de Sousa said he never received the certificate from the Chinese government. He thinks it was probably because the Chinese government had more pressing preoccupation such as its struggle against the communists.

37  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 1.

38  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 8. Dr. A.M. Braga, son of Jack Braga told the writer that Sir Robert Ho Tung provided the scholarships for his sisters instead.

39  Dated 21 January 1947, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 5.

40  BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 4.

1949 – Driven out of Mainland China

Macau had barely returned to some semblance of normality following World War II when the Chinese civil war ended in favour of the Communists, triggering a fresh wave of refugees fleeing into Hong Kong and Macau. The plight of the Shanghai Macaense community was highlighted in a report prepared by one of its own, M.H. Gutterres.41 When the Communists occupied Shanghai, the unprecedented exodus of Chinese and foreign nationals included the majority of the Macaense community. They were "compelled to sell most of their belongings for a mere pittance because [of] the endless restrictions and regulations imposed by the [Communists] whose prime object was to drive all foreigners out of China". Those who had ways and means emigrated to the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Portugal and other parts of the world but the rest languished in camps to await the prospect of resettlement to other parts of Portugal's many provinces. According to Dr. E. Brazão, Portuguese Consul in Hongkong: "Resettlement was not out of the picture, but ... the uprooting of a few thousand people from the land of their birth, the land to which they were most closely identified, simply to deposit them in territory where the climate alone would cripple many, was not a task any Government would undertake lightly."42

According to Gutterres, the Shanghai Macaenses had to rely on their own efforts to find employment. In Macau, the army and the police could absorb a number of the younger generation, and the commercial enterprises took on a dozen or so of the older ones. Some found jobs in Hongkong, but the numbers were negligible. The American Red Cross and Catholic Welfare agencies did their best to render aid despite the tremendous demands made on them from other parts of the world. Gutterres pleaded for work to be given to his fellow Macaenses because "those who were accustomed to social activities and work ... abhor the idea of living in idleness which is gradually ... creating despair and despondency in their hearts."43

Some records exist of the three camps set aside for the Macaense refugees from Shanghai.44 The records in the Braga Manuscripts do not include all the Shanghai refugees that went to Macau because the information appears to have been compiled around mid-1955* when only a remnant was left. Despite this deficiency, the records provide a glimpse of the nature of the Shanghai community, their previous employment and their aspirations for their future domicile. Due to the size of the data and the inappropriateness of certain remarks, certain information has been edited but a list of names has been supplied in the appendix.

[Editorial note: from the ages, it is clear that the lists were compiled in 1959. – HdA]

From the Braga records, we note the following:

1) Age groups.45

Age Group 60+ 50+ 40+ 30+ 20+ Under 20 Total
Camp 1 30 17 19 15 4 65 150
Camp 2 35 10 20 16 3 41 125
Camp 3 6 4 12 5 6 16 49
Totals 71 31 51 36 13 122 324

2) Previous occupation:46

The occupations and places where they worked in Shanghai were varied. Some of them worked for the major banks such as Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, The Chartered Bank, Mitsui Bank; others worked for major companies like Standard Oil, British Tobacco, Watson Pharmacy, Jardine Matheson, Imperial Chemical. Many more were engaged as stenographers, teachers, musician, beautician, bakery, motor mechanics, travelling salesman, nurse, radio technicians, printers, apartment managers and florist. Other places of work mentioned were police, clubs, hotels, cafes, restaurants, port facilities, electric companies, consulate, newspaper office, real estate firms, and the US army.

3) Destinations preferred:47

The majority wanted to go to the United States. Those who nominated other places such as Japan, Britain and France merely wished to join their families or a relative there.

4) Reasons for remaining in the refugee camps:48

The remarks recorded against the various names provided the reasons why these refugees were languishing in the camps. These included age factor, health, lack of finance, waiting for children's visas to come through, racial exclusion, failed applications, lack of proper identification papers and mere convenience.

  • Age: They felt too old to settle into a new environment. They had no wish to leave Macau, even to join members of their families.
  • Health: Some failed the medical examination; others had physical disability or were blind, deaf or invalid.
  • Finance: Most did not have the financial means to qualify for a visa or could not find anyone to sponsor them. Many were waiting to be sponsored by family members who were already overseas.
  • Waiting for children's status: A few older ones were waiting to accompany their children and would only follow their children when their visas had been approved.
  • Race: Some applicants were rejected due to their Chinese descent or their wives being Chinese.
  • Already rejected: Some did apply but failed to gain acceptance and did not know the reason why.
  • No proper papers: One did not have any identification papers which were lost long time ago.
  • Convenience: Most remained in the camps out of convenience while their husbands and sons were working outside or in Hong Kong. Young children were staying with grandparents to keep them company and because the Macau government provided the children with school tuition.

Those in the camps who had lost their identification papers would face the same problem as Michael Patrick O'Brien who lived in China for almost twenty years before arriving in Macau from Shanghai together with the vast numbers of refugees fleeing Communist China. At the time, he did not require papers to enter Macau. On 18 September 1952 he boarded the ferry Lee Hong for Hong Kong. Arriving in Hong Kong the next morning, he was refused permission to land because he could not produce any identification papers or a landing permit. Returning to Macau, he was treated as a new arrival and was refused entry. No one knew where he was born. He claimed to be an American citizen but the United States claimed he was born in Hungary. For ten months he ate and slept on board the vessel, became a celebrity with the passengers and achieved international fame as "the man without a country".49

This might be the same group of Shanghai Macaense refugees that were featured in the Special Supplement "Macao Today" published on 18 January 1958 in the Hong Kong Standard.50One could feel the pathos among the remnants who numbered about three hundred and fifty. They were reported as either very young or very old; the generation in between having been "dispersed to the four winds", establishing new lives in Hong Kong, North America or South America. The reporter wrote:

Time hangs heavy in their hands. There is the same drab scene, the same dreary existence. Idleness weaves its menacing pattern – demoralising to the spirit, degenerating to the mind. ... We've never had it so bad, an old man sighed. He fingered his shabby, old suit that still bore the label – now tattered – of one of old Shanghai's most renowned tailors. ... But it could have been worse, I guess. ... There was a chilling melancholy in his words. ... They are the old exiles, returned home. Years ago, their fathers had gone far into the north in search of a better living and found it. Today they are returned, strangers in their fathers' home.51

A few had integrated into the Macau community such as Fausto Maher who taught English in a school and gave English lessons to some Portuguese army officers. He also had a job as a radio announcer. Described as a prosperous refugee, Fausto said: "I am no different to any other refugee friends, no clever or no more enterprising. It's just the luck of the draw." His daughter secured a scholarship for studies in Canada but because it did not pay for the passage, she could not take it up. "I'm not that well off, you know", Fausto reportedly said.52 Frederico Cruz, the officer in charge of the refugee centre at Luso-Chinesa, kept himself busy at night writing to his wife and family in the United States. Health had delayed his joining them. Cruz said that it was mostly women who were left and they kept themselves busy with household chores and children, and might play mahjong to kill time. The food was good and plentiful and the children went to schools, however there were the disagreement and petty squabbles usually associated with living at close quarters.53

41  It was undated but according to references made, it would have been written sometime in the mid 1950s. At the time of writing, Gutterres was employed by the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 16, Envelope 53.

42  Ibid.

43  Ibid.

44  Ibid.

45  Ibid.

46  Ibid.

47  Ibid.

48  Ibid.

49  Finally O'Brien's case was taken up by the International Refugee Organisation. In August 1953, he was given a visa to enter Brazil together with a group of refugees from Mainland China.

50  Hong Kong Standard's Special Supplement, 18 January 1958, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 2.

51  Ibid.

52  Ibid.

53  Ibid.

Retreat to a precarious existence

The victory of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949 brought to an end the century of foreign domination in China. For the Macaenses who used to live in Mainland China, it was a departure with a sense of finality. Their employers had pulled out; there was no prospect of a return. Driven out of Mainland China, they retreated to Hong Kong, Macau and cities beyond. Allowed to leave with only meagre belongings, they lost almost everything. Many were exhausted by wars and social upheavals during the past decades. With China in the throes of continual revolution, the prospect of further turmoil bore heavily on the Macaense minds, providing the catalyst for their search of a better world to rebuild their lives. Some grasped the opportunities to emigrate to countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia. The Macaenses who retreated momentarily to Hong Kong and Macau knew only too well how precarious was their situation there. Nevertheless they set to make the most of their new environment.

The retreat to Hong Kong and Macau had its attractions. It was an important period when the various communities from Macau, Hong Kong and Shanghai started to blend. As Macaenses from Macau continued to arrive in Hong Kong in search of work, social integration followed as a matter of course.

Economically, Hong Kong and Macau became increasingly linked. Macau was still heavily reliant on gambling for the bulk of its revenue, while gold, opium and illegal immigrants were easily smuggled across its borders by highly organised groups.54 By then Portugal had declined further in economic importance and accounted for only five percent of Macau's total exports.55 As modern industrialisation picked up its pace in Macau, a picture emerged suggesting that most of the investments were of Hong Kong origin. By the early 1970s, concerns were raised by the Far Eastern Economic Review that:

The benefits of the boom ... largely bypassed the 300,000 residents of the Portuguese province. The capital came from overseas Chinese investors, most of it from Hong Kong. ... It was a reminder that the futures of the two were inextricably linked – and that Macao, increasingly, was becoming a colony of a colony.56

The linkage reflected the impact of globalisation, as light industries became highly mobile in pursuit of lower production costs. Perhaps reflecting the prejudice and ignorance of its writer, the same publication remarked a few years later that Macau was "living parasitically off the prosperity of Hongkong".57

The integration of the three principal Macaense communities was not without its problems.58 Like three tributaries of a river flowing into one, there was turbulence at the junction. These found expression not only in the sporting fields in the 1950s and early 1960s but also in social gatherings. Social life for the young was happy and hectic as revealed in the reminiscence of many. In time, through sports, work, social interaction and marriage many of the petty differences were eventually set aside.

54  J. Caeiro da Matta, in Edmonds (compiler), World Bibliographical Series. In 1940, the United States delegate to the League of Nations Permanent Central Committee for Opium accused Macau of exporting opium to the international market in breach of its undertaking. Matta defended Portugal's opium policy in Macau. Jack Braga wrote a report dated 27 January 1947 that collaborated the U.S. allegation. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 5 & The Philippines Herald, 4 February 1959, 7, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 8.

55  Asia Yearbook 1978, 236-241.

56  Asia Yearbook 1974, 205 ff.

57  Asia Yearbook 1976, 207-211.

58  Special Supplement, Hong Kong Standard, 18 January 1958, "Macao Today" 22. Pedro Hyndman Lobo Jr., the youngest son of Macau identity Pedro José Lobo, loved to play hockey but lamented that a lot of the players were leaving for Hong Kong. "The boys are going over in numbers and settling there", he said. Some players from Macau, having moved to Hong Kong, were refused membership of Club de Recreio for one reason or another. On the sporting fields, when both Macaense teams met, the contest was particularly fierce.

The Cold War

The establishment of the People's Republic of China and the onset of the Cold War caused massive disruption to Hong Kong and Macau's trade with China. The traditional entreport trade virtually disappeared overnight as Chinese industries tackled the cataclysmic changes caused by the transition from rampant capitalism to socialism. Manufacturing industry across Mainland China suffered badly due to the vacuum caused by the departure of whole strata of industrialists, financiers and senior management. As raw material supplies became disrupted, export industries took a backward leap. Not only were conditions not conducive to foreign trade but the Korean War and the onset of the Cold War brought international pressures in the form of trade embargoes. Letters in the Braga Manuscripts revealed that Hong Kong and Macau suffered economic hardships, eventhough it was common knowledge that certain Macau businessmen were engaged in smuggling essential items such as petroleum, medicines and other necessities to China using fishing junks, in defiance of American and UN decrees.59 The Portuguese government's excuse was that Macau wished to remain neutral and Portugal wanted to avoid hostility towards China.60 For a brief period of time, Portuguese Macau became the main conduit for illicit trade with China, just like four centuries ago when they were engaged in illicit trade in defiance of the Ming imperial edicts.

Many observers believed that the disruption to the entreport trade was good for both Hong Kong and Macau because it provided an impetus for the establishment of a modern manufacturing sector. Utilising the vast pool of cheap and eager labour and the industrial expertise of the new immigrants from Shanghai, Hong Kong achieved spectacular success as an important manufacturing base in the Far East.

International politics changed dramatically as a result of World War II and the Cold War. Asian states were clamouring for independence. Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain were targeted due to their vast colonial interests in Africa and Asia. The authorities of Hong Kong and Macau and their respective home governments were highly sensitive to the pressures of anti-colonialism. For the first time in centuries, China was unified and claimed its place as a significant power. Venturing into the international arena, China championed anti-colonialism and wars of national liberation. In April 1955 at the Bandung Conference, it sought a leadership role among the community of the non-align nations. To the Western powers, this was a strong signal that Mainland China would actively seek the return of Hong Kong and Macau as a matter of national honour. In the ensuing decades, the Macaenses eked out a precarious living under China's menacing shadow where "everyone seems to feel he is living on borrowed time" as reported by a Manila newspaper in February 1959.61 How the Macaenses in Hong Kong and Macau adapted to such a precarious existence would form the subject of the final chapter.

59  Christopher Rand in The New Yorker, 17 November 1951, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 1.

60  Gunn, Encountering Macau, 143-144.

61  The Philippines Herald, 4 February 1959, 7, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 8.


For the Macaenses in Macau, the Treaty Century began with hope coupled with uncertainty; hope of improved business and access to new ports but uncertain about how the increased competition would affect them and their Macau. In order to survive they had to rely on all the skills they could muster to make themselves useful to the new emergent Western powers. They utilised their varied skills to function as clerks, book-keepers, intermediaries and translators, thereby remaining relevant in the changing economic and political times. At the official level, Portugal had an understanding with the other Western powers to keep China in check. Communally, the Macaenses aligned themselves openly with the British who provided good opportunities for many to prosper. Like other communities, the Macaenses rode with the fortunes of the various settlements; buoyed by the successes but also dismayed by the sufferings as a result of various wars. As the communities re-grouped following 1949, there was a strong feeling of exhaustion from all the combat and turmoil. Some were seduced by the prospects of new horizons and opportunities beyond Asia, just as China had beckoned their forefathers from Malacca or the treaty ports had attracted their great-Grandfathers from Macau and Hong Kong. Like their forefathers, the Macaenses demonstrated the same attributes of an entrepreneurial spirit, great adaptability, mobility and heightened cultural skills. These qualities were crucial to their survival in the past and essential for flourishing in new environments.


In search of a better world

For the Macaenses in Mainland China, as for other foreign communities, the Communist victory in 1949 provided a dramatic end to a century of settlement.1 In this chapter, we summarised the key features of the various Macaense communities in China. One was the importance of political patronage in their success; when such patronage ended, they became marginalised. Another was the curious aspect of their multiple identities and the crisis of identity that sometimes projected from such complexities. Yet another was the controversial localisation issue debated for much of the twentieth century which masked the communities' struggle for recognition and relevance. In the case of the Macaenses in Macau, these issues converged on the political struggle of the late 1970s and early 1980s that resulted in the demise of the Macaense settler mentality as represented by the Macaense-controlled Legislative Assembly. The chapter concluded with how and why the Macaense diaspora came into being, focusing on the various efforts to ensure the survival of their culture and their communities.

Common features of the communities

Despite being scattered all over China, the Macaenses were bound together by the same customs, enjoyed the same foods and celebrated the same important days. The intensity with which cultural traditions were observed varied according to the size of the community and the degree of acculturation that had taken place over time. At the different places, if numbers permitted, they even established identical institutions such as Club Lusitano. In Macau and Hong Kong, their members were involved actively in the important social and political institutions, especially the respective legislative assemblies. The younger generations shared a common zest for life and knew how to party and enjoyed themselves.2 The intense social life previously described by Henrique de Senna Fernandes in Macau was similar to that experienced by A. de O. Sales in Hong Kong during the same period. According to Sales, this period (1920s to 1930s) could be considered as the high point of Macaense community life in Hong Kong:

The three focuses of life were the church, sport and social functions, where the young people, the girls carefully chaperoned, danced the night away. ... Social life was intense. Some dances at the Club Lusitano, like New Years Eve and Portugal's National Day, were very formal and you had to dress up. ... Other events, like dances at the old Anglo-Portuguese Victoria Recreation Club were much more relaxed and more fun. ... World War II suddenly brought that era to a rude end.3

There were similarities in their career choices with the majority employed by the foreign businesses, the banks and in the government service. It was part of the Macaense folklore that until the 1950s, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation gave preference to the recruitment of Macaenses over the local Chinese, resorting to recruit from Macau when Hong Kong could not supply sufficient Macaense candidates.4 Sometimes such preferential treatment lulled many of the younger generation into complacency, a concern expressed by community leaders such as J.P. Braga on several occasions and in letters such as the one to his son Jack dated 9 October 1935:

As far as Hong Kong is concerned, the family will tell you to what an awful state of affairs employment has been reduced in Hong Kong. ... If such is the case at the present time, what it is going to be when all these educated Chinese who are eager, submissive and educated above the standards of our people should be dreadful to think since, candidly between you and me, some of our younger people refuse to be disciplined and are not nearly as well equipped as our competitors.5

Luckily many young Macaenses took heed so that those with means and ability managed to join the various professions.

There was great similarity in the institution of family. When Henrique de Senna Fernandes described the family structure in Macau during the period between World War I and II, we observed similar elements in the Hong Kong Macaense community.6 The key element was the role played by the fathers in the lives of their families. More often than not, it was the fathers that decided whether children should be sent overseas to study, or to Macau to learn Portuguese, or to Hong Kong to learn English. Often it was the fathers who arranged job interviews for their sons through their network of friends and acquaintances. When the young people wanted to do something, if their father said no, that was the end of the matter. When it came to the decision to emigrate, it was more a family decision taking all factors into consideration, such as availability of visas, friends and extended families, job availability, language background and the climate of the prospective country.

The leaders of the community did their best to encourage education amongst its young people. It was to meet the educational needs of the Macaense community that the Roman Catholic Mission schools were established in Hong Kong and Shanghai during the early years of European settlement.7 From such humble beginnings, the Roman Catholic schools became a significant part of today's education scene in Hong Kong.8 After World War II, in response to the difficulty in obtaining places for their children at the schools, the Hong Kong Macaense community established its own primary school, Escola Camões. This was later added to so that by the end of the 1970s, there were three schools (one primary, two kindergartens) all opened to other communities. English was the medium of instruction in the Primary school but Chinese and Portuguese were also taught.9

1  An exception was the remnants of Shanghai Russian community. After 1949, they enjoyed an enhanced status for a while as the Russian language and culture became the dominant foreign influence in China due to its close ties with Soviet Russia. "Recognition", The China Mail Hongkong, 22 March 1958, 8, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 23, Folder 4.

2  See Flavia Collaço's "We remember…" in Appendix 3.

3  Kevin Sinclair, "A Part of us that is forever Portugal", South China Morning Post, 4 June 1994.

4  Several reasons had been advanced such as the historical links, the Macaense staff being well-trained and of good quality, and the help extended by Macau's religious institutions during the times when the banks were under liquidity pressure. From the interviews, it appeared that preference given to the recruitment of Macaenses were not a matter of company policy but the personal preference of the Macaense recruiters. The Macaense staff was an institution within the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank. The newly built bank offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong in the 1920s and 1930s had separate toilet facilities dedicated to the Macaenses, the British and the Chinese. In time, the bank also succumbed to competitive practices and started to hire many Western-educated Chinese with better formal qualifications as managers over the Macaense staff who had come up through the ranks. This caused some Macaenses to feel that their future within the bank were dim, so they decided to emigrate at the earliest opportunity.

5  Letter from J.P.Braga to his son, Jack, dated 12 October 1935: "All I can tell you is that whatever I have done in the past, and what I am doing now, and hope still to do with some help, is designed to improve the position of our community but unfortunately the majority members do not seem to realise that their advantage can best be secured by their individual efforts, because unless you are mentally equipped to hold your job, you are bound to lag behind when our competitors [the local Chinese] improve themselves in such a marvellous fashion." BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 43, Folder 2.

6  Senna Fernandes, "Macau, Yesterday". Also the letters between members of the Braga family in BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 43, Folder 2.

7  "Sir Cecil Clementi review 30 years", South China Morning Post, 7 June 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 5, BRA/4004, 4. In Hong Kong during 1849-1850, there were three Portuguese boys schools – one taught by R. Freire, the other by J.A. Pereira and the third by J.J. Souza and S. Souza. An English boys school was commenced in 1860 and five years later, the Mission amalgamated the English, Portugese and Chinese schools as St. Saviour's College, the forerunner of today's La Salle College.

8  The European schools in Macau at the beginning of the twentieth century had been mentioned elsewhere. For schools in Shanghai, see Nery, Filho de Macau.

9  "Horizons of adventurers", Hongkong Standard, 10 June 1977, 16.


Another common feature of the communities was the patronage extended by the ruling elite at the various places. The support was strongest in Macau where Portuguese was the official language and a cultural affinity existed between the Macaenses and the European Portuguese elite. In Hong Kong, due to the long historical association between the Macaenses and the British, the patronage shown by the British was strong in the beginning. At one stage, the closeness led to jealousies and the Macaenses were accused of monopolising the clerical and civil service positions.10 According to Jack Braga, the relationship with the British was akin to an alliance and "in the long history of the colony of Macao, no single factor has had a greater influence on Macao and its inhabitants than its relations with the British and the colony of Hong Kong".11 In due course, as British official policy encouraged sinicization as a way of responding to Chinese nationalist sentiments and more and more Chinese became western-educated, the Macaenses were increasingly overshadowed.12 British businesses in Hong Kong became increasingly accommodative towards local Chinese aspirations as indicated in the farewell speech of Sir William Shenton, one of the Colony's most influential figures of the early twentieth century:

During my life here I have always been very interested in our Chinese people who hold a very great stake in Hong Kong, more valuable than any other nationality. They are the holders of the landed property which is the lifeblood of the Colony's commercial life, and they are equally important as shareholders and tax payers. I therfore knew my duty was to be heart and soul with the Chinese community.13

Elsewhere in China, old British firms like Butterfield & Swire were recruiting educated Chinese to posts formerly reserved for Europeans out of economic and operational considerations.14 In Shanghai, due to its complexity and the presence of a large number of other foreigners, patronage was not so clearly defined although the Shanghai Macaenses were also said to have monopolised the well-paid clerical and shop positions.15 Nevertheless Shanghai Macaenses faced similar sinicization pressures as their Hong Kong counterparts.

10  "Employment of local citizens in civil service", Hongkong Telegraph, 9 September 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4018, 98-100.

11  English supplement, Notícias de Macao, 27 May 1951, compiled by Jack Braga. BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 8.

12  Butterfield & Swire keenly embraced closer relations with the Chinese. In 1935, it offered a thirty percent stake in its China Navigation Company to Chinese interests. Bickers, Britain in China, 170-171.

13  South China Morning Post, 3 April 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 261. Sir William Shenton, a lawyer, arrived in Hong Kong in 1908 and retired to England in 1936. During his career, he held many senior positions in the boardrooms of the major companies and the Executive Council. At one time, he was the chairman of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. He said that since 1927, he was privileged to hold the highest position possible for a civilian in Hong Kong and worked with "three delightful and charming governors".

14  Butterfield & Swire aimed to eliminate the loneliness of outport life for its British staff and to use them more efficiently elsewhere. Bickers, Britain in China, 184.

15  Sergeant, Shanghai, 48.

Localisation debate – the struggle for relevancy

Into this sensitive environment, the Macaenses' push for greater localisation of the civil service in Macau and Hong Kong must have led to gross misunderstanding. In the mid 1920s to the mid 1930s, Montalto de Jesus in Macau and J.P. Braga in Hong Kong championed localisation. When Braga became a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council in 1929, he pushed localisation fervently and was accused of acting out of communal self-interest. Braga refuted the claim and contended that localisation was about practicality, efficiency and economics due to the exhorbitant costs of hiring and maintaining expatriate personnel and the economic depression. He said he merely wanted Hong Kong to follow Shanghai's example to hire more locals if they possessed the necessary qualification and experience.16

To the expatriate civil servants whose contracts were under attack, the Macaenses' push for greater localisation could seem like a case of "biting the hands that feed it" and did not promote goodwill between the two groups. In championing localisation in the early 1930s, Braga appeared to reflect the feelings of the expatriate business community who suffered the lingering effects of economic depression since 1929. They had hoped that the Hong Kong government would alleviate the situation by reducing its expenditure and not increased taxes to cover its anticipated deficits.17 The government might consider that, in championing greater localisation, J.P. Braga had his ulterior motives but it could hardly ignore similar calls from institutions such as the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce and the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The bank's 1936 annual general meeting called on the government to curtail its expenditure due to the lean times experienced by the business houses who were not in a position to bear additional taxation.18

More appropriately, the push for greater localisation could be seen as a struggle for relevancy. In 1926, when Montalto de Jesus criticised Macau's recruitment of overseas personnel when suitable qualified Macaenses were available, many believed he was expressing the frustration of his fellow Macaenses. Echoing Montalto's concerns, an anonymous article appeared in a Canton newspaper expressing the fear that Macaenses were "destined to vegetate as the proletariat of prosperous foreign communities in the Far East, to eke out a jaded, hopeless existence, to which was condemned many a gifted, promising youth."19 In letters to his family, J.P. Braga expressed similar fears concerning the competition faced by his community from the increasingly educated Chinese.20 Overtaken by the local Chinese in commerce, faced with increased competition from well-educated Chinese for their jobs and obstructed by the glass ceiling of expatriate recruitment, the Macaenses' push for localisation could indeed be viewed as a struggle for their own relevance.

For the Macau Macaenses, localisation continued to be a major issue well into the 1990s. It became extremely heated during the mid 1970s when the Macau Governor announced that more expatriate staff would be recruited to improve efficiency and "to stamp out collaboration between senior public servants and local vested interests".21 The Far Eastern Economic Review sympathised with the Macaenses, convinced that "not all of them [expatriates] are striving for the best interests of Macau. Some have been described as refugees from the Revolution [in Lisbon] who prefer to hang on to well paid jobs rather than face hardship at home."22

Amidst the public outcry, Governor Leandro defended the recruitment program as the natural outcome of Macau's colonial status and an essential link between Portugal and Macau.23 In response, the Macaense-dominated Legislative Assembly, led by Carlos Assumpção, pointed out that too many military officers had already been appointed to key civil positions; that these expatriates generally lacked an understanding of the local conditions; and that "Macau needs technocrats not soldiers".24 Assumpção went further and sought to amend the political structure to enable the Legislative Assembly to sack these senior civil servants. Thus the localisation issue became highly politicised, caught up in the power struggle between two dominant personalities occupying the two most senior political offices in the enclave: the President of the Legislative Assembly versus the Governor of Macau. In the ensuing political tussle that spanned nearly a decade, the Macaenses' privileged position became a major casualty.25

16  "Employment of local citizens in Civil Service", in Hongkong Telegraph, 9 September 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4018, 98-100. Braga wrote: "... The advocacy of the employment of local men is really one prompted by economic considerations. It is no new move. As long ago as October 20, 1930, it was urged in the course of the Budget debate that 'that 'local residents, foreigners domiciled in China and Chinese should be appointed whereever possible, provided that they possess the necessary qualifications and experience for the position'."

17  The Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce reported in 1935 that uncleared and bankrupt stocks dating back to 1931 were "seriously handicapping new business in textiles which is one of the largest individual items of import". (South China Morning Post, 26 March 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 121). The year before, the Chamber reported that the continued trade depression coupled with "a share slump with huge losses, [caused] a crisis in native banks several of which went to the wall [and ] a fall in property values". (Hongkong Daily Press, 3 May 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 17). In such uncertain times, Braga's call for greater localisation found support amongst the business community. The Critic stated that Braga was right. In view of the fact that it was no longer treacherous to live in Hong Kong, there was a need to cut down on the costs of the civil service and that Hong Kong's civil servants were grossly overpaid compared to their Whitehall counterpart. (The Critic, 6 October 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 69.) As the share market continued to plunge dramatically in 1935, Braga's call for economy and no new taxes found a sympathetic hearing amongst the business community. ("Debate on the Estimates", South China Morning Post, 14 October 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 183).

18  South China Morning Post, 24 February 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 235.

19  The China Truth, 24 August 1929, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 1.

20  Letter from J.P.Braga to his son Jack, 12 October 1935, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 43, Folder 2.

21  Asia Yearbook 1977, 219-224.

22  Ibid.

23  Ibid.

24  Asia Yearbook 1979, 232-236.

25  Asia Yearbook 1985, 185-189.

Multiple identities – an identity crisis?

It had been observed that the most profound feature of the various Macaense communities was their sense of belonging to a common Portuguese heritage.26 Henrique de Senna Fernandes expressed it thus: "We fiercely defend our ties with Portugal, the Fatherland we quietly love, the Fatherland above the insanity, the whims and the errors of men. Hence our refusal to be absorbed by the larger community that lives and works side by side with us. It is not for vain nostalgia. It is solely the affirmation of an identity."27

The Macaenses in Macau, Shanghai and Hong Kong had echoed this feeling of patriotism on many occasions, usually in the presence of Portuguese dignitaries. Portuguese officialdom encouraged this Portuguese identity among the Macaenses. They stoked patriotic fervour through frequent visits from the Governor of Macau and other Portuguese dignitaries.28 During one visit to Hong Kong in 1937, the Macau Governor Barbosa reiterated the mutuality in these terms: "Portugal has to look after her sons in Hong Kong, Shanghai and all other Far Eastern ports. We are all sons of Macao and are working for the honour of Portugal."29

For the communities in Hong Kong and Shanghai, visits such as the one above provided a measure of comfort in times of uncertainties and reinforced the feeling of belonging to the larger Portuguese community in the Far East. Often these sentiments found practical expressions such as in the financial support extended to Club Lusitano, Hong Kong in the early days.30 In times of war such as the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and during World War II, the Portuguese authorities in Macau provided temporary shelter and extensive financial assistance notwithstanding the fact that many Macaenses were technically British subjects.31

This sense of Portugueseness bonded the various Macaense communities together, invoking mutual privileges and obligations. In 1929, the Shanghai Macaenses were asked to promote the Macau Fair and to participate in the exhibitions.32 Later that year, they even felt the need to move a motion reaffirming their loyalty to Portugal.33 The previous year, Jack Braga asked the Shanghai community to help pay Montalto de Jesus' fines and legal fees incurred over his controversial Historic Macau.34 These gestures were reciprocated when the Sino-Japanese conflict accidentally hit Shanghai in 1932.35 In the next two decades, there would be more occasions when the Shanghai community would be thankful for the support of their Portuguese compatriots in Macau and Hong Kong.36

Although this Portuguese identity appeared strong, there were other realities that emerged from generations of living on the China coast. Shanghai served as a good illustration. Shanghai Macaenses could be said to possess multiple identities. They had a Portuguese imperial identity, a Macaense cultural identity, the long-term residents could identify themselves as Shanghailanders and, if married with local Chinese, a Chinese identity as well. In Shanghai, the local "imagined" identity of the Shanghailanders loomed large in the thinking and behaviour of its long-term foreign residents.37 Macaenses born and bred in Shanghai could not have escaped its mindset and the sense of identity to which that mindset subscribed. Likewise in Hong Kong, the Macaenses talked of belonging to Hong Kong and of being British, indicating that identities were as mixed and as complex as elsewhere.

The multiple identities of the Macaenses varied from place to place, tempered by circumstance and history.38 F.A. Silva believed it was due to the fact that Hong Kong and Shanghai Macaenses "have had an English education and worked with British institutions. With English as a basic language we were at the same time exposed to British and American thought and traditions."39 For many, the lack of proficiency in the Portuguese language served as a point of differentiation. Even outsiders were surprised that Macaenses such as the Remedios brothers, implicated in the "Shanghai trunk murder case", could only speak fluent Japanese and English but not Portuguese.40

Such multiple identities sometimes proved bewildering to observers such as G.B. Endacott. He pointed to the slow rate of adoption of British nationality by the Macaenses in Hong Kong. Of the 2,263 Macaenses in Hong Kong in 1897, only 51 claimed to be British although over half of them (1,214) were born in the colony.41 Although the low figures were suggestive of a lack of commitment to the British colony, one had to account for the cumbersome nature of obtaining British nationality.42 Thirty-five years later, when the Registration of Alien Ordinance came into effect on 1 June 1934, the Macaenses in Hong Kong still figured prominently as "aliens". They ranked second after the Japanese, followed by Americans and Filipinos.43 So it remained that even though many Hong Kong Macaenses did became British subjects, others decided to remain Portuguese for one reason or another.44

S.L. Burdett, the British Consul-General in Shanghai, had difficulty coming to terms with the multiple identities of the Macaenses. In 1950, referring to the Macaenses in Shanghai who were British subjects but who claimed Portuguese neutrality during World War II, Burdett asserted that they were only British by "technicality" and that "many would discard their British nationality without any qualms whatsoever if it suited them to do so. This was demonstrated clearly in 1941-42."45 Thankfully not all British officials held the same view. When political reforms in Hong Kong were contemplated in the post-World War II period, Governor Grantham (1947-1957) wrote in a secret dispatch to Colonial Secretary Creech-Jones in 1949:

It is estimated that there are 2,500 Indians and Pakistanis in Hong Kong today, as compared with 3,000 Portuguese of British nationality. By the logic of numbers the Indians have as good a claim as the Portuguese, but the Portuguese have a better claim historically since there has been a Portuguese on the Legislative Council for many years;46 moreover, they have the interest of Hong Kong really at heart – which cannot be said of the majority of Indians in the Colony – if for no other reason than it is to them 'home'. The contrast between the loyalty of the local Portuguese and many of the Indians was amply demonstrated in 1941. [As] Mr d'Almada so truly made clear in his speech [the Portuguese] have more claim to call themselves the real citizens of Hong Kong than either the Chinese or the expatriate British.47

Multiple identities gave way to competing identities during times of political uncertainties or when Macaense interests were under threat. During the localisation debate of the 1930s in Hong Kong, J.P. Braga invoked emotive imagery when he declared that "there has been too great a tendency for the sons of the soil to be passed over in Hong Kong."48 Previous mention had been made about the World War II period in Shanghai when British officials looked disapprovingly at the manifestation of the Macaenses' multiple identities.49 In Hong Kong, many Macaenses did chose to emphasise their Portuguese identity when seeking travel documents and claiming neutrality; however, there were also many who openly identified with the British cause and were interned for belonging to the Volunteer Defence Corps and the Auxilliary Police. The Hong Kong Macaenses in general were suspected of being British sympathisers and rounded up for frequent questioning. Some were actively involved in clandestine work for the British Army Aid Group.50

Competing identities also emerged when it came time for repatriation. Macaenses such as Phillipe Nery in Shanghai and the McDougalls in Shantou were faced with the dilemma of "where is home?" when forced to leave their place of birth and childhood.

In summary, it could be said that the various Macaense communities in China possessed multiple identities being the product of their unique circumstance and history. This reality provided the fundamental rationale to the communities' existence and the key to understanding their actions and responses to events surrounding them. Multiple identities were not confined to people, but were descriptive of places as well. Portuguese Macau in the late twentieth century could be said to be three colonies embodied in the one: a colony of Portugal, of China and of Hong Kong with its fate determined to a large extent by decisions taken in those three centres. British Hong Kong could also be said to have two masters: Britain and China. Just as the success of British Hong Kong depended on its ability to serve the interest of its two masters, the success and survival of the Macaenses in China required the skilful juggling of its multiple, sometimes competing identities.

26  An example: "We are Macanese and Portuguese as long as we proudly feel so, carrying our names and honouring our flag." – Felisberto C. Roliz, 87 year old Macaense from Shanghai, resident in the U.S. Roliz, "We Macanese", in UMA News Bulletin, Sept-Oct 1997, 12-13.

27  Senna Fernandes, "Macau, Yesterday".

28  Shanghai Sunday Times, 23 November 1930, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 10, BRA/4023, 26-29.

29  South China Morning Post, 10 April 1937, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 7.

30  "Club Lusitano", BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 40, Folder 2, 209.

31  The Portuguese Government appeared to have been consistently inclusive. This was demonstrated most clearly over the return of Macau to China. Unlike the British government who purposely enacted the Immigration Act of 1971 to remove the automatic right of abode for Hong Kong people with British passports, Portugal declared it would accept all Portuguese passport holders from Macau if they wished to settle in Europe. This move won Portugal great admiration around the world, especially among the Macau and Hong Kong communities. Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 86.

32  North China Daily News, Shanghai, 2 June 1929, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, XXIX, 4-5.

33  South China Morning Post, 29 December 1929, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 146. Shanghai Macaenses met in Club Lusitano to reaffirm its loyalty to Portugal and to defend Macau with their lives if necessary.

34  The Showdown, Shanghai, 30 June 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 151-153. Montalto was a member of the Shanghai International Chess Club in 1905 and one of its Committee members representing the Portuguese community. He was the author of Historic Shanghai.

35  BMC-NLA, Box 9, BRA/4016, 56. They wrote to the Portuguese consulate in Shanghai. The Consul's reply was published in the Hongkong Telegraph, 27 February 1932. He wrote: "The Portuguese have been received in the French Concession in the homes of friends and relatives. Most of them have lost their possessions during the bombardment and fires in Hongkew. There is no danger to life and evacuation is improbable unless anything unforeseen occurs. Shanghai is only threatened in those parts lying close to the field of battle. The Chinese have tried to avoid hitting the Settlement although it serves as a base of operations by their enemies. It would be convenient for families in Macao to send remittances for passage of their relatives here who are without means, so that such persons may leave without rush so as to avoid confusion and lack of accomodation in the event of an emergency."

36  Jack Braga's letter to the Macau governor, dated 25 November 1948, "... for the moment there is nothing to be done, as the community in Hongkong is communicating with their colleagues in Shanghai." BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 44, Folder 4.

37  Bickers, Britain in China, 14-15.

38  The differences proved divisive for a long while. Macau Macaenses called their Shanghai and Hong Kong compatriots "Shangainistas" and "Ton Tons" respectively. When intra-communal divisions were at their height, they were not considered as legitimate Macaenses by some. Roliz, "We Macanese", in UMA News Bulletin, Sept-Oct 1997, 12-13.

39  Silva, All our yesterdays, 27.

40  South China Morning Post, 14 September 1933, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4016, 128.

41  Endacott, A History of Hong Kong, 252.

42  Ibid., 245. Because British parliamentary acquiescence appeared unlikely, the Hong Kong Government devised its own scheme which required an ordinance for each individual application. If the ordinance was passed, British nationality was then conferred, but was valid for Hong Kong only. Such being the case, this form of "second class" British nationality would appear unattractive to the Macaenses, given that they were already accorded all the rights of Portuguese citizenship at birth and possessed the rights conferred on aliens in Hong Kong. For the Chinese, British nationality, even if confined to Hong Kong, held certain attractions. That was why between 1880 and 1890 fifty-three Hong Kong nationality ordinances were passed of which only three were for non- Chinese persons.

43  South China Morning Post, 23 July 1934, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 4, BRA/4000, 33.

44  A. de O. Sales, known as "the godfather" of Hong Kong Macaenses in the 1990s still refused to give up his Portuguese citizenship while Sir Roger Lobo, the most prominent Macaense businessmen in Hong Kong in the late twentieth century, took out British citizenship long ago. It had been suggested by some interviewees that a reason for remaining Portuguese was because the British were too snobbish and conscious of class; that it was preferable not to be one of them, if you did not have to.

45  Bickers, Britain in China, 241.

46  First J.P.Braga, then Leo D'Almada.

47  25 August 1949, "Dispatch No. 28, Source CO882/31", in Tsang (ed.), 85-88. The transient nature of Hong Kong's population in the 1940s was described by Buckley, Hong Kong: the road to 1997, 1-13. Buckley wrote: "Hong Kong in 1941 was divided into a set of Chinese, European and Indian groupings that had little in common (beyond a shared respect for making money). ... Most residents had been born elsewhere and regarded the colony as no more than a transitory home. ... Most British bureaucrats and bankers had no intention of spending more than a portion of their careers in Hong Kong. Equally those immigrants from southern China who ... were fortunate enough to be able to save something from their paltry wages longed to return to their ancestors' village in Kwantung or up the coast to Swatow and Amoy."

48  Hongkong Telegraph, 9 September 1936, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 9, BRA/4018, 98-100.

49  Bickers, Britain in China, 241.

50  "Sham Shui Po P.O.W. camp", Casa de Macau Australia, Vol. 1/95, Book 3, October 1995. The Japanese executed C.H. Basto. B.A.A.G. stated that Basto paid the supreme sacrifice. Ride, BAAG – Hong Kong resistance 1942-1945.

The empire strikes back

The Macaenses' Portuguese identity would have been sorely tested during the heated localisation debate in Macau in the 1920s and the late 1970s when economic rivalry drove a wedge between the Macaenses and the Portuguese expatriates. Writers such as Henrique de Senna Fernandes asserted that in the 1920s and 1930s, there was no tension between the two groups and no difference made between them: "It was unthinkable. Everyone belonged to the same community. This fact was one of the most charming aspects of Macau. Those who came from far, from Portugal and the other colonies, were quickly integrated in society and actively participated in its events."51

That the Macau Macaenses readily absorbed new comers from the other colonies could be seen in the examples of two of its most prominent identities, the late Pedro José Lobo52 and Father Lancelote Rodrigues.53 There existed a degree of suspicion towards the Portuguese from Europe who tended to be only there for a short time. Suspicion and tension coalesced when Montalto de Jesus' ill-fated second edition of Historic Macau was published in 1926. Expressing the latent feelings of anger and frustration of his fellow Macaenses towards the Portuguese expatriates in their midst, Montalto described them in almost parasitic terms. Of Portugal, he wrote:

By a process of juggling, Macao was made to owe the Home government an enormous sum of money, not to speak of the continuous drain upon Macao by the administrative system which saddle Macao with incompetents from Portugal, whose salaries and pensions have eaten up the greatest part of the colony's income.54

He described the Portuguese expatriates as "keener than elsewhere, their [the Portuguese expatriate] sole ideal is to get rich quickly, by hook or by crook; and yet the poor nation is thereby rendered the poorer day by day, forasmuch as [the] fortunes are usually horded up abroad."55

Tension was aggravated by class distinctions in the colonial society. Carlos Marreiros pointed to the existence of a class system where the "reigning class" comprised the Portuguese expatriates from Europe who looked down upon the use of patuá by the Macaenses prompting families such as Henrique de Senna Fernandes' to speak only in the most proper Portuguese.56 It was not for terms of endearment that labels were used to describe each other. Jorge Morbey referred to these labels when he wrote that European Portuguese used the term Macaio "to express their supposed superiority" to the Macaenses while the Macaenses referred to the expatriates as ngau-sok and ngau-po.57

Some writers blamed the 1976 removal of the Portuguese garrison in Macau as a major factor in the deepening division between the two communities. Not only did it remove an eligible pool of young European men for marriage with local girls, the decision was seen as retarding the growth of Portuguese culture and language in the enclave.58 Added to that, many Portuguese came looking for work from economically depressed Europe, attracted by the buoyant economic conditions in Macau in the 1980s. The resultant economic competition between the two groups drove them further apart.59

But tension between the two groups could be traced to the earliest days of Macau, to when the private traders felt that the permission for the Portuguese settlement was a result of their efforts and their perseverance. Even before Goa received the good news, the Macaense traders had already elected a committee to run the place.60 In 1586 this committee evolved into a powerful local government body called the Senate which sometimes eclipsed the power of the early governors of Macau, especially in their dealings with the Chinese. According to C.R. Boxer, there was frequent friction between the two institutions derived from a power struggle between the Senate, representing the Macaenses, and successive governors who wanted to exert the Crown's control over them. Tensions were further aggravated by the poor quality of many appointees to the senior posts and the systemic discrimination practised by the governors and viceroys in favour of those European-born.61 Before 1833, the Chinese authorities' preference to deal only with a representative of the Macau Senate bolstered the Macaenses' position.62

This same trinity of forces assumed central roles in the political tussle in Macau during the late 1970s and early 1980s. As President of the Legislative Assembly, the latter day successor to the Senate, Carlos Assumpção pushed for legislative reforms that would have relegated the Lisbon-appointed governor to just a figurehead. To the detriment of Assumpção and his supporters, they failed to convince China of the merits of their proposals. When China signified its opposition to Assumpção's proposals, they were doomed to fail.63

51  Senna Fernandes, "Macau, Yesterday".

52  Born in Portuguese Timor, Lobo was orphaned at an early age. He came to Macau to join the seminary but changed his mind and gained a degree in Economics instead. Before the war, he was a government official gaining notoriety in a libel case on 28 March 1928 against Lee Hysan, the then holder of the Macau opium monopoly. Lobo lost the lawsuit. During the war, he distinguished himself by making personal interventions with the Japanese. Father Manuel Teixeira spoke glowingly of his skills of diplomacy. According to papers in the Braga Manuscript Collection, Lobo was involved with refugee relief. Connected with Macau's gold monopoly, he became a very wealthy man. A newspaper reported that "[Lobo] is certainly Macao's most colourful character, ... the old city's most picturesque story of local boy makes good. Today, Pedro José Lobo heads an empire that covers most of big business in Macao. His interests extend to Hongkong and from there, to other parts of the Far East. As his wealth is inestimable so is the extent of his philanthropy. ... No institution in charity-prone Macao is completely independent of the Lobo handout." He was also known as the "Gold king of the Orient". South China Morning Post, 28 March 1928, BMC-NLA, MS 4300, Box 1, BRA/3985, 109-113. See also Gunn, Encountering Macau, 124-134 and Hong Kong Standard's Special Supplement, 18 January 1958, BMC-NLA, MSS 4300, Box 12, Envelope 2.

53  Born in Malacca in 1923, Father Lancelote came to Macau at the age of twelve to study Portuguese and to train for the priesthood. It was the task of looking after the refugees from Shanghai in 1949 that marked him for life and became his passion. It took twelve years for most of the refugees from Shanghai to be re-settled and they were not all Portuguese nationals or all Christians. Now as head of the Catholic Relief Service, he makes regular trips into China -at the invitation of the Chinese Government- to carry out pioneering work amongst people with sight, hearing and mental disabilities. Immensely popular and well known for his love of singing and Scotch whisky, everyone has a favourite story about him. In his work, he is helped by friends such as Macau identity Julie de Senna Fernandes, herself a refugee from Shanghai. They arranged functions not only within the local community but also amongst the consular corps based in Hong Kong. Cardoso, "Lancelote Rodrigues: an Arabian Priest", in Macau Special 93, 70-77.

54  C.A. Montalto de Jesus, Historic Macau, 458.

55  Ibid., 477.

56  Marreiros, "Alliances for the Future", Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 163 - 172 and Senna Fernandes, "Macau, Yesterday".

57  Both terms suggesting that one smells of the buffalo. Morbey, "Aspects of the 'Ethnic Identities' of the Macanese", in Review of Culture, No. 20, 1994, 206.

58  Marreiros, "Alliances for the Future", in Review of Culture No. 20, 1994, 169.

59  Ibid., 170.

60  Coates, A Macao Narrative, 25.

61  Boxer, Race relations in the Portuguese colonial empire, 71.

62  Ibid., 46-47.

63  Asia Yearbook 1983, 190-193.

Crushing the Macaense settler mentality

There were many elements in the decade-long clash between Assumpção and successive Macau governors but the end result was the crushing defeat of the Macaense settlers. The Far Eastern Economic Review criticised the handful of Macaense legislators "who often acted out of parochial and selfish motivations."64 A fatal blow was struck in February 1984 when the Macau governor dissolved the Legislative Assembly in mid-term after amending the electoral laws to break the strangle-hold that the Macaenses had over the Legislative Assembly. In the election that followed, China urged the elimination of the "colonial mentality" that had existed in the Legislative Assembly, a comment assumed by all as referring to the Macaenses.65 Through the mobilisation of its allies in Macau, China got the election result that it hoped for. Through maintaining the status quo of elected representatives, the results dealt a blow to the prestige of the Macau governor who thought that the Macaenses would be totally routed. Even though the result saved face for Assumpção, the Macaenses were also the losers. By appearing to push their cause to the extreme, they alienated many people and were singled out as obstructionists. Having alienated their traditional allies, their interests were highly vulnerable when the Sino-Portuguese negotiations – covering the transfer of sovereignty – got underway.66

Much had been made of the concessions given to the Macau Macaenses in the 1987 Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration but their political position had already been eroded by the electoral reforms and their once powerful alliances, so vital to their survival, were in disarray. Whatever noises the Portuguese government had made about safeguarding the Macaenses' position and Portugal's heritage in Macau, it was generally acknowledged that since 1966, the Portuguese government in Macau had lost significant prestige. As the Far Eastern Economic Review put it: "The European Portuguese in Macao ... lamented the vanishing lifestyle. But accurately reflecting the political reality, their views counted for little; since the Cultural Revolution-inspired upheaval of 1966 it was accepted that the Chinese tail was wagging the Portuguese dog."67

Not only did the Macau government lose prestige from the debacle over the handling of the 1966 riots, the home government in Lisbon also lost interest in Macau and its other colonies. Having abandoned East Timor, the Portuguese government had thoughts of doing the same in Macau. According to Shipp, between 1974 and 1977, Portugal offered to return Macau to China on three separate occasions but China refused to accept the offers because it was not ready to deal with Macau until the question of Hong Kong had been settled.68

64  Asia Yearbook 1978, 236-241.

65  Asia Yearbook 1985, 185-189.

66  Ibid.

67  Asia Yearbook 1974, 205 ff.

68  Shipp, Macau, China, 3.

From settlers to émigrés

For the Macaenses in Hong Kong and Macau, they felt vulnerable in the decade of the Cultural Revolution fermenting within China (1966-76). Many thoughts turned to emigration, to join the growing numbers of their community in the diaspora. The Macaense diaspora is the product of successive waves of immigration that began in earnest soon after World War II, peaking during periods of heightened political tensions such as in 1949 and 1966-67 when rioting and disturbances spilled onto the streets of Hong Kong and Macau.

Political instability was only one of many reasons for Macaenses to leave in droves. It had been pointed out that the urge to emigrate resulted from the desire for better economic prospects and living conditions as well as fears regarding the future.69 While F.A. Silva wrote that there must be "regrets as well as rewards" among those who left, most of the people interviewed said they had no regrets in leaving.70 Their reasons for leaving varied. One left Hong Kong soon after World War II, repatriated to Britain with her family. Another was in the midst of a prosperous career as a partner in an American merchandising firm. He left in the late 1960s for the sake of his children's education and because his mother wanted his family to follow her overseas. Another's real estate career was in limbo because of the 1966 riots. Another left because he could see that the future for his banking career would not be bright due to the influx of tertiary educated Chinese who were recruited as managers over him. Another left as a result of a job transfer to the U.S.-based headquarters of the multi-national firm that he was working for in the Asia. Yet another went overseas for further studies and never returned. All of the interviewees left by choice, not out of necessity. Those that emigrated by choice indicated that the civil disturbances of 1966-1967 loomed large in their final decisions.

The spillage of the Cultural Revolution from China, with rioting and demonstrations in the streets, caused panic throughout the entire community. According to J.B. Correa:

By the time the 1967 riots were over, you were living with a siege complex. In the New Territories, some Hakka women were gunned down by Chinese troops from across the border. Primary school children were taught how to make bombs using firecracker powder. Home-made bombs were placed under the cars, and China cut off the water supply. Water was rationed for every fourth day. For those that lived on the upper floors, the water pressure was almost non-existent. Everybody decided to leave. Having lived through World War II, with all the hardship, suffering and anxiety, I did not want to go through that again.71

Mickey Sousa saw the riots from a different perspective. He was then the Commanding Officer of the Auxiliary Police Emergency Units, having been called out of retirement for temporary service due to his long experience. According to Sousa, the Cultural Revolution riots in Hong Kong were "nothing" compared to the Double Ten riots in October 1956:

The Double Ten riots were the greatest. In the end the police were really knocked out. We had not slept for weeks. The Gurkhas and the army were called in with rifles and bayonets. There were many casualties. The Cultural Revolution rioters (in Hong Kong) were all kids, not one of them over fifteen years of age. The kids were marching in the street, holding a red Mao Zedong book in their hands and shouting. You couldn't touch them because they were all kids. They went to Government House, smashed the gates and threw stones at Government House.72

The former deputy Governor and Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, David Akers-Jones put it well when he said:

People forget what happened in the 1960s, but it was just one damn thing after another. We had immigration on a large scale, we had one of the worst typhoons in Hong Kong's history, we had cholera, we had water shortages, we had bank collapses, we had the 1966 riots, and we had the 1967 disturbances.73

The Macaenses were not alone in pointing to the impact of the 1966-67 riots. Many ethnic Chinese also left for similar destinations. For Canada alone, immigrants from Hong Kong doubled from 3,710 in 1966 to 7,594 in 1968.74 Those that went to the United States and settled in New York had been credited with revitalising its Chinatown.75

Other reasons given for the Macaense emigration included family reunion, better job and career prospects, greater education opportunities for their children, the herd mentality and the general disenchantment with the colonial way of life manifested in its snobbery, demarcated along class and racial lines.76

When they arrived in their new countries, the Macaenses revealed a pattern characteristic of the past experience of their forebears. They keenly observed the social structure and set about forming alliances with local power groups to start new careers. For those Portuguese-speaking Macaenses that went to Brazil, they found that even with their limited knowledge of English, it was sufficient to gain employment with American enterprises. As Brazil prospered under American patronage, they achieved success. Their easygoing outlook and their cultural skills enabled them to integrate and assimilate into their new homelands. The smallness of their numbers might have helped but some believed, like one Macaense woman in London, that "my family's Portuguese blood, leavened with Chinese, Japanese, German and Filipino has enabled us to assimilate and prosper in a foreign environment." 77

The Macaense diaspora contained many success stories. Dr A.M. Braga, son of Jack Braga, mentioned some of the achievements in a speech delivered at the first international reunion (encontro) of the Macaense communities in Macau in 1993. He said, in part:

From humble clerks our forebears, our contemporaries and our children are represented in a multitude of professions; from traders, merchants and developers; doctors, dentist, and nurses; pharmacists and chemists; architects, and judges, magistrates, solicitors and barristers; teachers, university professors and scientists; priests; brothers and nuns; civil administrators, city mayor and cabinet minister; authors, artists and musicians and the list goes on and on…We, Macaenses, are highly respected as honest, hard-working law abiding people. Wherever we have settled we have contributed to the communities in which we live.78

69  Silva, All our yesterdays, 54-55.

70  Ibid.

71  Interview with J. B. Correa, Melbourne Australia

72  Interview with Mickey Sousa, South Coast, Sydney, Australia

73  Courtauld & Holdsworth, The Hong Kong Story, 81.

74  Skeldon, "Hong Kong in an International Migration System" in Skeldon (ed.), 29.

75  Kwong, "New York is not Hong Kong" in Skeldon (ed.), 260.

76  Silva, All our yesterdays, 54-57.

77  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses, Volume I, 9.

78  Silva, All our yesterdays. Dr. A.M. Braga was president of Casa de Macau, Australia at the time of Encontro I. The text of the speech was kindly supplied by J. B. Correa.

The Macaense diaspora

The 1990s were sunset years for colonial rule in Macau. General Vasco da Rocha Vieira, the Governor, had set his mind on ending the final chapter of Portugal's colonial presence in China with as much pomp and dignity as possible. Above all, Portugal wanted to ensure that the vestiges of the colonial past remained after 1999. A key element of that past would be the Macaense diaspora and the mobilisation of the Macaenses through various encontros (reunions) was considered an important program during the transition to 1999. These encontros were promoted as a celebration of Macaense culture as well as providing an opportunity to appraise Macau's progress, to journey down memory lane with old friends while making new ones.

In November 1993 about six hundred representatives of the Macaense communities from around the world met in Macau for their first encontro.79 It was officially opened by Maria Barroso Soares, the wife of the President of Portugal. The leaders discussed the common issues affecting them hoping to develop programs to preserve the Portuguese language and culture, especially amongst the younger generations. Representations were made regarding passport matters, the need for educational scholarships, funding of community centres and assistance for the elderly and the unemployed.80 They grappled with divisive elements and formulated a Macaense creed to embrace all the communities. In his speech, the Macau Governor, General Vieira, spoke of his intention to ensure a smooth transition towards 1999, taking into consideration the interests of all the people, especially those Macaenses who wished to remain in Macau beyond the handover. However, he was realistic enough to recognise that there would be those who, in spite of everything that had been done to encourage them to stay, would decide to leave anyway.81

Three years later, a second encontro was held again in Macau from 20 to 27 October 1996. According to the organising committee, the purpose was "to ensure that the Portuguese of the Orient keep their roots". During this encontro, one thousand two hundred people gathered. A highlight was the launch of two significant books on the Macaenses communities: Jorge Forjaz's Famílias Macaenses Vols. I, II & III and Frederic A. Silva's All Our Yesterdays.82

The third encontro was held between 20 and 27 March 1999. For many, it was an emotional occasion being only six months before the transfer of sovereignty on 19 December. Adding weight to the occasion, the President of Portugal J. Sampaio officiated at the opening ceremony. Besides meeting old friends again, many attendees considered the highlights of the week to be the solemn religious procession from the ruins of St Paul to the Macau Cathedral and the visit to the newly opened Macau Museum. The looming transfer of sovereignty hung like a heavy cloud over the entire occasion. Dr Jorge Rangel, Secretary for Public Administration, Education, and Youth Affairs and the highest ranking Macaense public servant described his own struggle concerning the decision he had to make regarding whether to renounce his Portuguese nationality in the hope of keeping his job.83 Nevertheless, he urged his audience to look to the future with hope. For those who chose to remain in Macau, Carlos Marreiros predicted the eventual demise of their Macaense identity.84 Others see things in less fatalistic terms. An anonymous Macaense reportedly said that he would stay with his family in Macau provided that the lifestyle did not change too much. He added: "Macau is the fountain of our existence, if we all leave Macau after 1999, the Macaense diaspora would soon lose its roots and our identity would vanish for good. ... Macau without the Macaense would be like a soup without salt".85

In nearby Hong Kong, the Macaense community had lost its next generation as most of the younger members had already emigrated. Despite the advantage of modern transportation and telecommunications, the younger generation of Macaenses appeared unlikely to follow the example of many Hong Kong Chinese who opted to settle their families overseas but returned to work in Hong Kong. Known within the Hong Kong migrant communities as "astronauts", these businessmen, professionals and bureaucrats struggled to juggle the demands of family and work through long inter-continental plane trips.86

While there are "astronauts" within the Macaense communities, most Macaenses who migrated generally severed their work and business links to settle in their new countries. Even with subsequent adverse economic conditions at the countries of their adoption, they hung on tenaciously with never any thought of giving up and returning to Hong Kong or Macau. This commitment to the lands of their adoption had been a key feature of the Macaense communities over the centuries and might be the reason why, of the several studies conducted of the Portuguese communities in North America where the largest group of Macaenses of the diaspora live, there had been no mention made of the Macaenses from the China region except for one small entry.87 This could be the result of the narrow definition applied or an indication of how successful the Macaenses had assimilated into their new environment.

79  Harald Bruning, "Macanese reaffirm their roots", Hong Kong Standard, 13 August 1996.

80  Lusitano California, Volume 2, Book 4, 15 December 1993.

81  Ibid.

82  Harald Bruning, "Macanese reaffirm their roots", Hong Kong Standard, 13 August 1996.

83  He did not renounce his Portuguese citizenship.

84  Marreiros, "Alliances for the Future", in Review of Culture No 20., 1994, 163-172.

85  Harald Bruning, "Macanese reaffirm their roots", Hong Kong Standard, 13 August 1996.

86The reasons for this air commute have been attributed to the difficulties associated with finding suitable work and businesses in the new environment or as an intentional strategy, a form of insurance against possible deteriorating economic and political situations in Hong Kong. Inglis & Wu, "The Hong Kong Chinese in Sydney" in Skeldon (ed.), Reluctant Exiles, 197-214.

87  In Pap, L., The Portuguese-Americans, (Boston, Twayne Publishers, 1981), p92. Other studies were: Brown, W.J., A Historical Study of the Portuguese in California, (Thesis, University of California, 1944), Fernandez, R. L., The Social Meaning of Being Portuguese Canadian, (Toronto, The Multicultural History Society, 1979), and Higgs, D., The Portuguese in Canada, (Ottawa, Canadian Historical Association, 1982).

The last bastion

Generally speaking, the transition to Chinese sovereignty for Macau was free of major incident as the Macau government had adopted an accommodative stance towards China in keeping with Portugal's past dealings with the Chinese authorities. The success of Hong Kong after 1997 allayed much of the earlier apprehension for the people of Macau. On handover night, 19 December 1999, four hundred and forty two years of official Portuguese presence was brought to an end in front of the assembled dignitaries from around the world. At a concert earlier in the evening, they were entertained by many singers and dancers, including a choir consisting of the symbolic number of four hundred and forty two children.88

Earlier in the day, at a lunch reception at the Governor's residence, the last Portuguese governor of Macau, General Vasco da Rocha Vieira, paid tribute to all the Portuguese who had lived in Macau and to those who had contributed to strengthening ties between Portugal and China. At the evening concert, he delivered his final address in which he claimed that the Portuguese were first and foremost navigators and discoverers, not empire builders.89

According to some that attended, the concert was enjoyable and the handover ceremony dignified. Unlike Hong Kong's Governor Patten, Governor Vieira did not shed any tears but was later embroiled in a controversy over the transfer of funds from the Macau-based Macau Development and Co-operation Foundation to the newly formed Lisbon-based Jorge Alvares Foundation.90 Jorge Alvares was acknowledged as the first Portuguese to reach China in 1513; it appeared ironical that an institution named in his honour should be the subject of controversy in the early days of Macau's return to Chinese sovereignty.

88  Cheung Chi-fai, "Handover Day", South China Morning Post, 20 December 1999.

89  Ibid.

90  Harald Bruning, "Mixed signals on $100m cultural fund", South China Morning Post, 25 January 2000. Casa de Macau, Australia the Macaense community organisation has a vested interest in the settlement of this dispute because the Macau Foundation had already approved a subsidy of six million patacas (A$ 1.1 million) for the purchase of premises in Sydney Australia. This and other grants were suspended by the foundation pending the outcome of the government investigation regarding the transfer of funds to the Jorge Alvares Foundation. (Casa Downunder, newsletter of Casa de Macau, Australia, Issue May 2000)


Some Reflections

The history of the Macaenses in China was primarily a story of survival and a struggle for recognition and relevance. It described how they rose from a small band of traders engaged in illicit trade to become the sole European outpost in China for over three centuries. From shaky foundations they emerged as solid citizens who made significant contributions to the building up of Macau, Hong Kong, Shanghai and other treaty ports.

After the Opium War (1839-1842), many members of the community left Macau to join the stampede of the Western powers into China. Arriving at their destinations, the Macaenses had to work hard to support themselves and their families; they lived in close proximity to each other pursuing their simple pleasures in the confines of their clubs and their homes, maintaining a strong sense of their own identity in the process. Their cultural skills, honed from generations of living in a multi-cultural environment, enabled them to adapt to their new surroundings with relative ease. Where numbers permit, they fielded their own sporting teams and through their band of eager volunteers, they played their part in the defense of the settlements where they happened to be at the time. Whereever they went, the Macaenses formed alliances with the ruling elite, especially with the British under whose patronage they were able to prosper. Going to new destinations involved risks, although the Macaenses' risks were minor compared to those undertaken by other groups. Like other foreigners, the Macaenses could gain much comfort in the solidity of the grand buildings along the various bunds and the building boom that underpinned the development of Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, like the soft muddy foundations of some of these settlements, the foreign presence in China was built on the fragility of the "unequal treaties". As Chinese nationalism and Japanese imperialism combined to assault the foreign concessions, it became increasingly clear that the occupation of Chinese territories by the Western powers were becoming increasingly unwarranted and untenable. Even as World War II made a review of those treaties compelling, the Communist victory in 1949 sealed the fate of the foreign settlements in Mainland China with clear finality. The Communist takeover dispersed many Macaenses to different parts of the global village. Many retreated to Hong Kong and Macau where for the next few decades, they rode with the roller coaster fortunes of the twin colonies until the end of the twentieth century when the chapter on European colonisation in China was brought to an amicable end.

One country, two systems

Today, Hong Kong and Macau exist under China's orbit as Special Administrative Regions. Administered by local Chinese under the principle of "one country, two systems", K.C. Fok observed that the idea bore a striking resemblance to what he termed "the Macau formula" – the Chinese imperial policy that enabled Macau to exist under foreign administration for four and a half centuries.1

The relative success of post-handover Hong Kong had given encouragement to many, particularly those who had earlier feared a capital flight and loss of confidence. Lately, concerns had been expressed by sections of the Hong Kong public over which part of the principle should be emphasised: "one country" or "two systems"? Concerns had arisen as a result of two Hong Kong government initiatives. First, there was the surprise intervention in August 1998 to prop up its stock market purportedly to defend its currency. This was criticised as an abandonment of the free market principle that was considered an integral part of Hong Kong's economic system. Secondly, on 27 June 1999, the Hong Kong government requested the National People's Congress in Beijing to reinterpret the Basic Law so as to circumvent the decision of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal in what was known as the "right of abode controversy". The reinterpretation had the effect of depriving the estimated 1.67 million mainland residents of the right to reside in Hong Kong.2 This appeal to Beijing was criticised as weakening Hong Kong's judicial processes significantly.3

In the case of Macau, administrative embarrassment was not slow in coming. Less than one month after the handover, the Macau police refused entry to a Hong Kong political activist. This was criticised as reflecting badly on the application of the principle of "one country, two systems". It elicited a call from certain quarters for a crash course for Macau officials on the political implications of the principle.4

In Hong Kong, Martin Lee, a prominent lawyer and political activist called for vigilance by all concerned when he wrote:

The shattering of such expectations by the decision to seek a reinterpretation perhaps provides the clearest example of failing to protect Hong Kong's autonomy. How can the 'one country, two systems' policy succeed if we do not protect our system to the utmost? Each time Hong Kong surrenders a key aspect of its autonomy, it will slide more out of balance.5

However, there were those who considered the Hong Kong Government's decisions to be highly desirable and necessary for the well-being of Hong Kong even though sceptics doubted that "two systems" can exist in the "one country". Their scepticism would likely deepen if Mainland officials in Hong Kong continued to make inappropriate remarks deemed to be compromising the principle of "one country, two systems", as occurred on 8 June 2000.6

1  Jason Gagliardi, "One enclave, two stories", South China Morning Post, 5 December 1999.

2  Chris Yeung, "NPC lays down the law", South China Morning Post, 27 June 1999.

3  Glenn Schloss, "Right of Abode Controversy", South China Morning Post, 26 June 1999.

4  Harald Bruning, "Enclave must fit into the big picture", South China Morning Post, 14 January 2000.

5  Martin Lee, "Time to assess Deng's legacy", South China Morning Post, 22 February 2000.

6  Linda Leung, "Democrats offer rare applause", South China Morning Post, 8 June 2000. In Hong Kong, the deputy head of the Taiwan Affairs Department of the Central Government's Liaison Office, He Zhiming, reportedly said that "local business people should not trade with Taiwan firms advocating independence." Eventhough the Hong Kong Chief Executive, Tung Chee-hwa complained to He's boss, the majority of Hong Kong residents polled by the newspaper believed that He's comment reflected those of the Central Government's. They also believed that the Hong Kong Government "should demand that Beijing guard against similar comments being made in future [and] should warn its SAR-based officials not to make any comments that compromised the 'one country, two systems' principle."

The realities of history

What would the new millennium hold for the Macaense communities in Hong Kong, Macau and in the diaspora? What would happen to their culture, their language and the institutions they held dear – One could argue that the future would point to further dilution of the Macaense cultural traits. Those who remained within the Chinese orbit would likely become sinicised while those in the diaspora could become increasingly globalised. Some Macaenses viewed this prospect with a sense of alarm while others considered it as part of the reality of history – the nature of things. While most understood that culture is constantly evolving, nevertheless, if they could, they would like to delay the inevitable in time to preserve elements of the past. Accordingly the leaders of the diaspora saw the need to establish Macaense community centres in the various cities in order to nurture and preserve elements of their culture for future generations.7

In Hong Kong and Macau so far, the signs appeared encouraging, as the lifestyle had not altered to any significant extent. Although the Macau Macaenses experienced little discrimination since the handover, a senior representative of the community, Carlos Marreiros, said that they would very much appreciate "a clear gesture, or a new stimulus by the [Macau] Government that it wants us to stay here".8 For the Macaenses, a gesture came with the news that the Macau government would host a fourth encontro in November 2001. This raised the hope that the uniqueness of the Macaense culture would be treated with a fair degree of graciosity by the new political elite.9

The Macaense communities are part of that uniqueness. At the first encontro in 1993, their representatives adopted a creed to define their unique heritage:

We are the descendants of successive generations of settlers in the wake of the early pioneers who ventured out of Portugal through uncharted seas and inhospitable lands to fulfil the dreams and aspirations of the intrepid people of ancient Lusitania [ancient Roman term for Portugal] in search of a better world. We stand here this week on the soil of the last bastion of the former vast Portuguese overseas presence. This has been the home of our ancestors for almost 450 years. But soon enough the realities of history and a world of new values will take over. In our hearts, the memory of a rich Christian culture nurtured here in Macau will not be forgotten. Macau will soon quietly enter a new age with our collective good wishes for its progress and the well-being of its residents. …"10

The Macaense creed emphasised the uniqueness of its people yet failed to mention the monumental impact that their ancestors had on China and the rest of the world. Few could argue with the observation made by historian Immanuel C.Y.Hsu that the Portuguese arrival on the China coast coupled with the Russian expansion eastward to the Manchurian border "were nothing less than epochal for China, for they broke her age-old isolation and initiated the beginning of direct East-West contact, which, though weak and faltering at first, was to grow to such force in the nineteenth century as to effect a head-on collision between China and the West."11

Viewed from such a perspective, it seemed difficult to exaggerate the historical significance of that tiny band of Portuguese private traders – the forefathers of the Macaenses – who wandered to the Chinese coast at the beginning of the sixteenth century and clung on tenaciously, despite the various setbacks, to forge a European settlement at Macau. No subsequent political revolutions or economic booms and busts could obliterate the impact that Macau and the Macaenses had achieved for China and the history of humankind.

7  The largest club house outside of Hong Kong/Macau is in São Paulo Brazil. Others are planned for Australia, Canada and United States.

8  Harald Bruning, "Eurasian minority takes pride in cocktail of blood", South China Morning Post, 13 May 2000.

9  Casa Downunder, Issue May 2000, newsletter of Casa de Macau, Australia.

10  Lusitano California, Volume 2, Book 4, 15 December 1993.

11  Hsu, The Rise of Modern China, p3.

Appendix 1: Shanghai Refugees in Macau – Camp 1

Source: Braga Manuscript Collection, National Library of Australia

Name Age
1. Aguiar, Adalberto L. Cruz 61
2. Alves, Julio Justino 57
3. Alves, Maria José55
4. Assis, Arthur 65
5. Aquino, José Maria da Silva e Souza 68
6. Barreto, Luis Alfredo 31
7. Braga, Carlos Maria
8. Braga, Mary Tang May
9. Braga, Luiz
10. Braga, Ricardo
11. Britto, José Maria de 66
12. Carmo, Vera44
18. Carion, Estela 38
19. Carion, Simplicio
20. Carion, Eileen Theresa
21. Carion, Eduardo Emílio
22. Carion, Francisco José
23. Carvalho, Anna
24. Carvalho, Helena
25. Carvalho, Amalia Roza
26. Carvalho, Alberto
27. Chao, Guilherme 41
28. Castilho, Margarida Francisca 70
29. Collaço, Guilherme Augusto 47
30. Collaço, Luiza
31. Collaço, Ricardo
32. Collaço, João Ferdinando47
33. Collaço, Helena H. Liang39
34. Collaço, Aurea Erlinda17
35. Collaço, Ricardo Oscar14
36. Collaço, Eduardo José12
37. Collaço, Marcos Alfredo10
38. Collaço, Candida8
39. Collaço, Cecilia6
40. Collaço, José Augusto4
41. Collaço, Lidia 1
42. Collaço, Maria
43. Collaço, João F. de Aquino
44. Conceição, Carlos Camillo 54
45. Costa, Augusta da 67
46. Costa, Eduardina 72
47. Deismeyer, William 63
48. Deiameyer, Walter 57
49. Favacho, Guilherme Romano 63
50. Gonsalves, Carmelita 63
51. Gutierres, Leocrecia 76
52. Guedes, Maria Amelia 66
53. Lopes, Maria Assunta 64
54. Lopes, Carlos Eduardo 58
55. Luz, Carlos José da
56. Luz, Lena
57. Machado, Carlos Jacinto 68
58. Machado, Rosalina
59. Machado, Tereza
60. Machado, Silvia 65
61. Madeira, Tsong Tse Yen 58
62. Madeira, Lidia da Silva
63. Madeira, Alberto Francisco
64. Madeira, João José
65. Madeira, Angelina
66. Madeira, Stela Teresa
67. Madeira, Joana Celeste
68. Madeira, Noel Patricia
69. Maher, Fernando
70. Maher, Esmeralda
71. Maher, Raymond
72. Maher, Anita
73. Maher, Luiz
74. Maher, Beatriz
75. Maher, Luiza
76. Maher, Fernanda Antonia
77. Maher, Marcos Maria48
Name Age
78. Manteigas, António Frederico 7
79. Marçal, Renaldo Cesar
80. Marçal, Maria Filomena
81. Marques, Maria Martinho 80
82. Nogueira, Acacio Augusto 45
83. Noronha, Celeste Maria 58
84. Oliveira, José Maria dos S. de
85. Oliveira, Bernado António
86. Ozorio, Angela Maria 70
87. Ozorio, Magdalena de Jesus 68
88. Rangel, Eliza Carmen de S. 60
89. Remedios, Geraldo
90. Remedios, Natalia
91. Remedios, Martha
92. Remedios, Maria Tereza dos
93. Remedios, João Ricardo
94. Remedios, Regina Roberta dos
95. Remedios, Julia Jen dos
96. Remedios, Ana Jen dos
97. Remedios, Ricardo
98. Remedios, Anna Roza
99. Remedios, Maria Augusta
100. Remedios, Humberto
101. Remedios, Eduardo
102. Remedios, José Eulalio dos 52
103. Ribeiro, Beatriz Maria 54
104. Ribeiro, Sara 75
105. Rozario, Jorge Maria do 74
106. Rodrigues, Rose Thu
107. Rodrigues, António
108. Rodrigues, Margaret
109. Rodrigues, Cecilia
110. Rodrigues, William
111. Rodrigues, Joseph
112. Rodrigues, Mary Loreta
113. Rodrigues, Teresa
114. Rodrigues, Jorge
115. Rodrigues, Helena
123. Senna, Lawrence 57
124. Senna, Ricardo Pedro de
125. Senna, Wong Chiu Shaing
126. Senna, Ricardo
127. Senna, Serafina
128. Senna, Adelina
129. Senna, António
130. Senna, Maria
131. Senna, Virginia
132. Senna, Paula Yuet Fong Tsong de
133. Short, Carlos João 59
134. Silva, Lily
135. Silva, Marie Teresa da
136. Silva, Jeronimo da
137. Silva, Beliza
138. Silva, Loreta
139. Silva, Fernando Basto da 37
140. Soares, Augusto
141. Soares, Josefina
142. Soares, Teresa
143. Souza, Angela Olivia 19
144. Souza, Amalia Mihaidovna
145. Souza, Patricia
146. Victal, Fernando 41
147. Xavier, Yacko Matsumura Margarida
148. Xavier, José
149. Xavier, Bernardo
150. Winkler, Lilian da Graça 27

Appendix 1: Camp 2

Source: Braga Manuscript Collection, National Library of Australia

Name Age
1. Alvares, Francisco d'Assis 69
2. Alves, Josephina Maria
3. Alves, Helena Maria
4. Alves, Lucia
5. Alves, Gregory
6. Baptista, Luis Gonzaga
7. Baptista, Bertha
8. Baptista, Francisco 79
9. Botelho, Eliseu 61
10. Botelho, Julie 72
11. Carepa, António 46
12. Canavarro, Agata Maria
13. Canavarro, Emilia Madalena
14. Canavarro, Chang Ai Sao 63
15. Canavarro, Alfredo
16. Canavarro, Maria de Fatima
17. Canavarro, Caterina
18. Canavarro, Manuel
19. Carneiro, Amelia Maria Lourdes 79
20. Castro, Hector
21. Castro, Yip Po Chun
22. Castro, Teresa Maria
23. Castro, Luiz Maria
24. Collaço, Alda Maria 54
25. Costa, Angelica M. Siqueira 43
26. Costa, Guilherme Philipe da
27. Costa, Stella Maria da
28. Costa, Francisco António da
29. Costa, Vasco Jorge da
30. Costa, Jacinta Maria da
31. Costa, António Padua da
32. Costa, Margarida Amelia da
33. Cunha, Roza Maria da
34. Cunha, Carlos Augusto da
35. Cunha, Julio Diniz da
36. Cunha, Filomena de12
37. Diniz, Nadeja 51
38. Encarnação, Maria Ushakova de 37
39. Favacho, Alvaro Alberto
40. Favacho, Maria Ernestina
41. Guterres, Yan Yu Tsung
42. Guterres, Luiz
43. Guterres, António
44. Guterres, Luiza
45. Gutierrez, Maria Emilia 64
46. Leitao, Maria 64
47. Lopes, Augusto Lourenço
48. Lopes, Nancy Monica Chang
49. Lubeck, Maria Edith 61
50. Machado, Olga Emma
51. Machado, Eric Michael
52. Machado, Laura Roza
53. Machado, Manuel Francisco
54. Machado, Jr. Ernesto David
55. Machado, António 34
56. Machado, Laura M. 66
57. Martins, Frederico Oram
58. Martins, Marguerita Doris T. S. Yung
59. Martins, Margarita M. Oram
60. Martins, Florence M. Oram
61. Martins, Frederico Oram
Name Age
62. Oliveira, Aurelio F. Martins de 81
65. Ozorio, Anna Aline Lee 62
66. Ozorio, Frederico Alexandre
67. Ozorio, Maria Chow
68. Ozorio, Rosa Maria 73
69. Pereira, Mary 42
70. Perpetuo, Ismalia
71. Perpetuo, Barbara Maria
72. Perpetuo, José Miguel
73. Perpetuo, Eduardo António
74. Perpetuo, Anna Maria Rodrigues
75. Perpetuo, Vicente de Paulo
76. Rangel, António Maria 65
77. Rozario, Fermiano Mancio 69
78. Rozario, José Miguel do
79. Rozario, Iza Maria Lourdes do
80. Rozario, George Victor do
81. Rodrigues, Marie Louise Machado 32
82. Rodrigues, Leonardo 73
83. Remedios, Alice 57
84. Remedios, Augusto Carlos dos 72
85. Ritchie, Gustavo
86. Ritchie, Adriana Jesus
87. Silva, Levy dos Santos e
88. Silva, Maria Rangel
89. Silva, Parasheva Leshokoff
90. Silva, Carmen Nina da
91. Silva, Luiz Gonzaga da
92. Silva, Laura Valentina da
93. Silva, Maria Belma Mello da
94. Silva, Mario Horacio da
95. Silva, Luisa Maria da
96. Silva, Luiza Maria Se Tsao 68
97. Silva, João Henrique da 39
98. Souza, Augusto José de
99. Souza, Adalina Maria
100. Souza, Anna Maria
101. Souza, João Alvaro
102. Souza, Roberto
103. Souza, Amelia Maria
104. Souza, Elsa Maria Palma de
105. Souza, Christina
106. Souza, Philip António
107. Souza, Juanita Armanda
108. Souza, Lawrence Joseph de
109. Souza, Rushun Jan Din de
110. Souza, Patrick
3 mnth
111. Soares, Guilhermina Maria
112. Soares, Margarida Maria
113. Soares, Bernadete Maria
114. Soares, Julie 28
115. Tavares, Henrique
116. Tavares, Elsa Maria
117. Tavares, Frederico Alberto
118. Tavares, Gertrude Margarida
119. Tavares, Elvira Tereza
120. Vianna, Eugenia M. Machado
121. Vianna, Judith
122. Vianna, Mario Fernando
123. Vianna, Sara Maria
124. Vianna, Miguel Augusto
125. Webster, Camila 71

Appendix 1: Camp 3

Source: Braga Manuscript Collection, National Library of Australia

Name Age
1. Almeida, Carlos António de
2. Almeida, Emílio
3. Almeida, Miguel
4. Almeida, Eduardo
5. Almeida, Alfredo
6. Aquino, José Lucius Tyrus de
7. Aquino, Tadeo Amos de
8. Baptista, Teresa Ma Sien
9. Baptista, Maria Cecilia
10. Baptista, Angelina 46
11. Canavarro, Joaquim Maria da Costa 73
12. Collaço Vicente Victor
13. Collaço, José António Xavier
14. Costa, Margarita Maria da
15. Costa, Alfredo da
16. Guterres, António Maria 44
17. Leon, Alminda 72
18. Leon, Andre
19. Leon, Mary
20. Oliveira, António Carlos de 34
21. Ozorio, João
22. Ozorio, Jorge
23. Ozorio, Guilherme
24. Ozorio, Alberto Emílio 57
Name Age
25. Perpetuo, Isabel 34
26. Rozario, Thomas do
27. Rozario, Elisa Victoria do
28. Rodrigues, Jr. Arthur 40
29. Silva, Manuel Eça da 31
30. Souza, Mathias Eduardo de
31. Souza, Branca Maria de
32. Souza, Carolina
33. Souza, Virginia
34. Souza, Alice
35. Souza, Jacqueline Jeane
36. Souza, Victor Manuel
37. Souza, Maria Therese
38. Souza, Raimundo José
39. Souza, Rodolfo Alberto
40. Souza, Teresa de
41. Souza, Dolores Maria de
42. Souza, Cecilia Savina
43. Souza, Dolores Leonor
44. Souza, Vivian Mari
45. Souza, Francisca Patricia
46. Souza, Guilherme Talbot 46
47. Souza, Carlos Augusto de 26
48. Xavier, Vicente Maria 67
49. Yu, Victoria Anges Chan 74


Source: Braga Manuscript Collection, National Library of Australia

1) From Sir Robert Ho Tung:

15th February 1944. My dear Jack,

On Sunday morning I was profoundly grieved to learn from the Wah Kiu Yat Poa of the sudden and unexpected death of your dear and widely respected father. To your dear mother, brothers and sisters as well as yourself, the loss is undoubtedly irreparable. Please convey to them my deepest sympathy and accept the same yourself. To me, however, the loss is nonetheless acute as your father and I have been lifelong friends and on many important occasions have been working together. No foreigners knew more of the history of my career than him and I had hoped that upon the death of myself, he will write a few lines to the newspapers similar to what he wrote about the late Mr Robert Shewan and His Excellency the late Governor Barbossa. Alas! This hope cannot now be realized. He has, however, left many able and worthy sons behind and amongst them you have been associated with me much more than the others, and I am very grateful to you for the great interest you have been taking in my welfare since the outbreak of war. Therefore, I hope that when my death really occurs, you will follow the footsteps of your dear father.

I enclose a newspaper cutting of the Hongkong News which may be of interest to you in case you desire to communicate with the local Portuguese paper. When convenient, please give Elsie a ring as to when you will resume your work in the office.

Yours very sincerely,

Robert Ho Tung.

2) From Rhoda Reeves, wife of the British Consul General of Macau:

14th February 1943 [sic]

Dear Jack,

This morning, awaiting breakfast, I was handling one of my loved books and my thoughts immediately flew to your father when I came across the following:- "Let us Now Praise Famous Men"

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.
The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning.
Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding and declaring prophecies:
Leaders of people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning meet for the people, wise eloquent in their instructions:
Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing:
Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations:
All these were honoured in their generations and were the glory of their times.
There be of them, that have left a name behind them that their praises might be reported.
And some there be, which have no memorial;
who are perished, as though they had never been;
and are become as though they had never been born;
and their children after them
. But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten.
With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance,
and their children are within the covenant.
Their seed standeth fast, and their children for their sakes.
Their seed shall remain forever, and their glory shall not be blotted out.
Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.

Do you not find it beautiful and applicable? It comes from Ecclesiasticus Chapter 44, v 1-14. Should the future bring a different world from that which we know before, and named memorials become a thing of the past, the last verses, well remembered, would do your father justice. If, on the other hand, Hongkong retains her former status, the first verses well might be cited on a plaque for him. He has done so much for the Colony.

I did not know him long but considered him a friend. He was one of the old school, wise, fine and upstanding; a gentle man that any person whatsoever was the better for meeting and knowing. The courageous way in which all of you have faced this most unhappy time is the finest tribute to your father that all of you could give.

In admiration, sympathy and friendship.

Rhoda Reeves.
British Consulate


Primary sources (annotated)

Braga Manuscript Collection at the National Library of Australia

Jack Braga, the son of J.P.Braga, a leader of the Macaense community in Hong Kong in the early decades of the twentieth century, had a multi-faceted career as a teacher, broadcaster, journalist and local historian. He provided research assistance for historians like C.R. Boxer and writers like Montalto de Jesus and Austin Coates. His credentials as a historian could be seen in the many publications that were credited to him.1 Perhaps the greatest compliments were those given by Hong Kong's Governor Grantham, C.R. Boxer and the Macau historian Monsignor Manuel Teixeira.

In August 1955, Governor Grantham wrote: "Mr Braga has probably a greater store of knowledge of the history of our Colony than any man living to-day."2 C.R. Boxer openly acknowledged the contribution and work of Jack Braga when the University of Hong Kong conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctorate of Literature in 1971. In two letters (14 March and 9 April) written to Braga soon after the event, Boxer again mentioned that it should be Braga who deserved the recognition. He hoped that "the powers that be will recognise this in the not too distant future".3

Even at the time of his death, "the powers that be" in Hong Kong and Macau did not feel inclined to do. Even Monsignor Manuel Teixeira believed that Macau owed Braga a great debt. In the obituary he wrote of Braga following his death in 1987, Teixeira stated that "Braga truly deserved to be decorated and I myself requested the government to do so but to no avail."4 On Portugal's National Day, in the year of his death, he was awarded, post-humously, the Order of Prince Henry for his contribution to the dissemination of Portuguese culture throughout the world.

When Jack Braga went to Macau as a teacher, it was his ignorance of Portuguese history and Portuguese heroes that led him to start his book collection. He told his nephew Stuart Braga that "I was not familiar with all that background, that tremendous background of achievement of bravery, of courage. My books, now in the National Library of Australia, are my contribution, shall we say, to a fascinating story, involving not only a people but even the family of which I have the honour to be."5

He was a prolific writer and a keen annotator with such small neat hand writing that one could be mistaken to think that they had been shrunk to fit into the tiny spaces on different parts of the page. He collected many materials including little pieces of burnt remnants of Montalto de Jesus' controversial second edition of Historic Macao. I have relied extensively on the information that Jack Braga had religiously collected over the period of his life and his correspondences with various persons. These formed part of the Braga Manuscript Collection which comprised two hundred boxes. Pauline Haldane's paper provided a valuable guide to the volumes and boxes of materials.

1  A list of Braga's work can be found in Edmonds World Bibliographical Series Vol 105, Macau.

2  Braga, Hong Kong Business Symposium.

3  BMC-NLA: MS 4300, Box 26

4  Fr. Manuel Teixeira: 'The Death of the historian José Maria' originally published in Gazeta Macaense reprinted in Review of Culture No. 5, April-June 1988, pp99-100.

5  Forjaz, Famílias Macaenses Volume III, p334.


In addition to the current newspapers, I have relied heavily on the newspaper cuttings that have been studiously collected by Jack Braga over the past decades. These formed part of the Braga Manuscript Collection that is housed in the National Library of Australia. The cuttings cover a long period between 1920s to the 1950s after which time, it appeared that Braga lost interest except for the odd occasions. The newspapers were mostly from the China region and as long as they contained articles on current affairs, history, literature and subjects that interested him, he would paste it into a big book and note the source of the clipping.

Canton Daily Sun
China Mail
China Truth
Hongkong Daily News
Hongkong Sunday Herald
Hongkong Standard*
Hongkong Telegraph
Japan Advertiser
North China Herald
North China Daily News
Notícias de Macao
Shanghai Sunday Times
South China Morning Post*
Sunday Star
The Canton Truth
The Daily Press Hong Kong
The Morning Post
The Philippines Herald
The Showdown, Shanghai
The Sun News Pictorial
The Times, London*
Times Weekly

[* These newspapers are still around. The rest ceased to exist.]


Gosano, Eddie, Hong Kong Farewell, (private publication, year not specified).

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Magazines, periodicals and newsletters

Asia Magazine, a weekly news magazine published in Hong Kong.

Asia Yearbook, published by the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Casa Downunder, newsletter of Casa de Macau, Australia.

Discovery Magazine, inflight magazine of Cathay Pacific Airways.

Far Eastern Economic Review, a weekly news magazine published in Hong Kong.

Lusitano Club Bulletin, newsletter of Club Lusitano, Foster City, California USA

Macau Special, published by the Macau Government Media Bureau.

Review of Culture, published by Instituto Cultural de Macau.

Silver Kris, inflight magazine of Singapore Airlines.

Sunday Morning Post Magazine, published by South China Morning post newspaper.

UMA News Bulletin, newsletter of Uniao Macaense Americana, Inc. USA

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