Tracing the history of this tiny peninsula perched off the coast of China, Geoffrey Gunn skillfully charts five hundred years of colonial encounter and economic relations with China, Japan, and the Asia region. For 450 years a Portuguese enclave or city-state, Macau—like Hong Kong—will revert to Chinese sovereignty at the end of the century. Macau too stands in the vortex of massive regional economic and social change, serving as a dynamic launch for China's dramatic, export-oriented growth. Yet little has been written in the West on Macau's parallel transition to a Special Administrative Region of China or, indeed, on the historical, economic, and political features that distinguish this Portuguese territory from its British counterpart.Making liberal use of historical photographs and illustrations, Gunn situates Macau in its Asian context since the sixteenth century, arguing that Macau's history has been shaped by more than its economic incorporation into a Euro-centric world system—on Chinese terms—or its survival in the twentieth century as an essentially rentier state built around gambling. The author considers the complex and ultimately doomed struggle by the Portuguese to assert sovereignty over Macau, which was reclaimed by China in the historic Sino-Portuguese Declaration of 1987, that foreshadows the end of Western rule in China. Macau's multi-faceted and fascinating saga draws out wider lessons about the nature of colonialism in Asia and the shape of the East Asian world order in the coming Pacific century.
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Geoffrey C. Gunn is professor of international relations in the Faculty of Economics, Nagasaki University.
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