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Time to deepen understanding of Macao

(People's Daily)    16:28, December 21, 2017

The Ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Casinos, gambling tables, and roulette wheels might be the first images that come to mind when Chinese mainlanders think of Macao.

Not long ago, a reporter from huanqiu.com, a famous news platform in China was told by a senior Macao official how that wants people to know the city has more to offer than gambling. If a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor wants to open a clinic in Mozambique, it would be wise of him to seek help from Macao.

As a former Portuguese colony, Macao serves as a bridge between China and Portuguese-Speaking countries with its unique language advantage.

The Permanent Secretariat Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation Between China and Portuguese-Speaking Countries is set in Macao.

Portuguese is spoken in many countries throughout the world.

Currently, there are eight countries that list Portuguese as their official language. Through China’s vigorous promotion of its Belt and Road Initiative, especially on the development of the Maritime Silk Road, Macao plays a strategic role due to its geographical location and international trade capabilities.

The Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute has organized multiple business visits for Chinese entrepreneurs to Brazil, Cape-Verde and other Portuguese-speaking countries in 2017.

Although a former colony itself, Macao is far more peaceful that Hong Kong, even though the latter was returned to China 20 years ago.

Search “Why Macao...” on zhihu.com, China’s version of the US Q&A platform Quora, and it wouldn’t be too hard to find that question because hundreds, if not more, have already asked it.

A simple comparison reveals the true answer. Several days ago, news of two Hong Kong college graduates refused to stand when China’s national anthem, “March of the Volunteers” was played at their graduation ceremony. News of their actions spread on China’s social and mainstream media platforms igniting heated discussions. But in Macao, the national anthem is played every Monday at schools China’s flag is raised. Schools also host singing contests where students compete to see who can sing the best patriotic song on National Day.

Flag-raising ceremony at a school in Macao.

In May, Benny Tai Yiu Ting, one of the three infamous "Occupy Central" instigators, tried to disrupt Macao’s Legislative Council election. Macao officials said Tai’s actions represented a provocation against Macao and the “one country, two systems” policy. But there was no need to fear him as Macau officials knew he was never going to achieve anything. Typically, stunts such as these are nothing more than an attempt to receive Western media attention.

Many people who have experienced both cities feel that the attitude in Hong Kong is mired in indifference, while Macao has an ebullient patriotic vibe.

Visitors to both locales reached the following conclusions:

1. Personality

Macao is practical, congenial, and non-political. Similar to the people of Macao, most Hong Kong people are not radical, or fond of politics and or uproar of any kind. But Hong Kong’s peaceful tone has waned over the years.

2. Colonists

In the past, Portugal’s hegemony was not as large as Britain’s, nor were the Portuguese as aggressive. Fittingly, governing the former colonies offers unique challenges inherent to their past rulers.

3. History

The battle over Macao occurred months before the battle against the British over Hong Kong emerged.

The “12-3 Incident” from 1966 refers to the day Portugal first lost control of Macao, as KMT forces purged Portuguese authorities from the city. Many feel that day marked the beginning of Macao’s return to China.

4. Economy

Macao had a typical island economy, and is a low self-sufficiency rate compared with similar economies like the UK, Japan, and Hong Kong, relying on the Chinese mainland for supplies. In 1960, China began supplying fresh water to Macao, another obvious indicator of how much, Macao relies more on China more than Hong Kong.

5. Location

“There is a river between Hong Kong and the Mainland, and you can walk to the Mainland from Macao,” said the official.

However, it is more important the hearts of Macao’s people remain connected to the Motherland.

It is high time for us to stop misunderstanding Macao. There is much more to Macao than gambling.

(Compiled by Li Lei) 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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