Journey to My Home: China and Hong Kong 2008 (Part Two)
A Long Waited Trip to My Heartland
Lee Siu Hin
Part Two: Macau, China
My Visit to Macau
(Old City Center Macau, China)
I am currently at Beijing. China--between my work and meetings in Beijing, China--I had been able to get/buy dozen Olympic tickets to see different sport events--includes: volleyball, beach volleyball, Judo, weightlifting, field & track, gymnastics and others--it's much excited to see from the stadium live! Which I will have more details at my upcoming reports.
Let’s start from the beginning from the beginning of my journey; it was began last June from Los Angeles to Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Macau. I spend time to visit my parents living at their winter house at Macau, and helping them moving back to their summer house at northern Chinese city of Tianjin.
When my parents sold their house at Hong Kong eight years ago after their retirement, they left the city and moved to Macau, they spend half years at Tianjin during summer and travel to Macau to stay at our winter house for the rest of time. Since my father at his 80s need wheel chair for travel, and so it make us Macau-Hong Kong- Tianjin trip more difficult. Now they also sold their apartment at Macau this summer, and decide to stay at Tianjin for the rest of their life.
Before we sold our house at Macau, I’d spend some time travel around this tiny 400 years former Portuguese colony. Macau is approx 60 km southwest from Hong Kong separated by Pearl River (currently the only way to travel between these two cities are using passenger boats), it was the oldest European colony at East Asia. A size of 28.6 square-kilometers it just only slightly bigger then the New York’s Manhattan Island. When the colony was returned to China at 1999, it marks the end of the last European colonies at East Asia.
Different then Hong Kong--the former British colony, Macau has strong Portuguese cultural and architectural influence. The “Historic Centre of Macau” has designated by United Nations as one of the World Heritage site.
More Images from Macau
When the first Portuguese arrives to Macau on 1557 AD looking for establishing their trading center at East Asia and Chinese empire, they bribed the local Chinese officials to let them park their boat to create settlement—China never admitted the colony but time went by and Portuguese were able to force them to accept the occupation. In 1887, after the Opium War where Hong Kong island was ceded to England, China’s Qing government was finally forced to sign the “Sino-Portuguese Treaty of Amity and Commerce,” under which China ceded to Portugal the right of "perpetual occupation and government of Macau"; conversely, Portugal pledged to seek China's approval before transferring Macau to another country. Macau officially became a Portuguese colony.
This is my first “real” trip to visit Macau in over 20 years, I spend half days walking around the town, visit my former 5th grades school, the place I ate desert and played, it’s main industry is tourism and gambling—the so-call far east’s Monte Carlo, much of the old town still remain the same but many new hotels and casinos had been build for the past five years, major Las Vegas casinos such as: Sands, Wynn, MGM Grand and Venetian had invested billions to build a state of the art Vegas-type mega casino-hotels and help Macau last year to overpass Vegas to become the largest gambling town in the World, based on gambling revenue.
With the booming gambling industry moved to Macau for work, an unofficially estimate the city’s one-quarter population are foreign workers from the Philippines , Singapore and mainland China—many migrant workers come to Macau looking for better jobs while many local population consider they’re stealing their works and pushing overall wages down.
With Macau returning to China on 1999 ending 400 years of Portuguese rule, and Hong Kong returning to China on 1997 ending 150 years of British rule, East Asia saw the rise and end of the era of European colonial powers. Yet it doesn’t mean western military and political influence is over—the U.S. military bases in South Korea, Guam and Japan, every year many U.S. aircraft carriers passing thru western Pacific Ocean along China’s coast to travel to Gulf coast to join U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistan, many people in Asia consider it’s U.S. military still using east Asia’s ocean as a stepping stone to launch their military invasion to middle east and “gun boat” intimidation against U.S. foe or rivalry such as: Iran, China, North Korea and Russia.
Every year, U.S. Naval ships and aircraft carriers make frequent visits to China’s Hong Kong harbor for a 2-3 days vacation stop, it’s been the custom for U.S. for the past 50 years during the Cold War—Korean War, Vietnam War, the first Iraq war and the current U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistan. (According to the U.S.-China military agreement, Chinese government will still allow U.S. Naval ships to visit Hong Kong for vacations).
Few months ago, U.S. aircraft carrier USS Nimitz visited Hong Kong, they brought several thousands sailors for shopping and drinking at the bar. According to the Hong Kong press, an average U.S. sailor spend about 0 USD for their one-day visit, that’s about several million U.S. dollars overall to Hong Kong’s tourism income—shopping, drunk at bars, go to tattoo parlors or prostitute. Many Hong Kong Chinese activists consider this is U.S. showing off their military might—since China doesn’t have aircraft carrier and U.S. navy frequently choose to visit Hong Kong during the political sensitive movements.
In China’s military blog, many bogglers strongly advocate China need to quickly build aircraft carriers—for the national security—China lost many invading wars from western powers for over 100 years, because China has very weak navy. Because of this, the word “aircraft carrier” in China had become symbol of rising power, it’s sound strange to understand by foreigners but many people and business in China linking their work as “aircraft carrier,” many major industrial regions or companies will promote themselves as “building a XXXX industry aircraft carrier,” or “our city is the manufacturing aircraft carrier.”
There’s a clear Chinese public opinion to support stronger military but that doesn’t means China want to become military superpower (that what U.S. accuse China for). In Chinese vocabulary or Government documents, you never see China identify themselves as “new superpower”, rather most likely you’ll see phase such as “peaceful rise” or “resurging” of China.
With the over 100 years of colonialism, exploitation, invasion and occupation by western powers, Chinese doesn’t allow any foreign control—that’s what I feeling when I walking at the street of Macau, And how U.S. and western peace activists need to understand (and learn listen to others to resolve) the distrust created by hundreds of years of invasion, colonialism.
More reports from my trip; and the Beijing Olympics will be coming soon….
(from Beijing Olympics)
Lee Siu Hin
National Immigrant Solidarity Network http://www.ImmigrantSolidarity.org
ActionLA Coalition http://www.ActionLA.org
Peace NO War Network http://www.PeaceNOWar.net