Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai, and other Treaty Ports of China/Macao

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By Pedro Nolasco da Silva, Cavalleiro da Ordem de Nosso Senhor Jesus Christo.


ALTHOUGH Macao is not one of the Treaty ports, its inclusion in this work is justified by the fact that it is a European Colony in which the principle of free trade prevails. For many years the only European Settlement in China, it served as an asylum for the British on more than one occasion when they were forced flee from Canton in the stormy days of the past, and it is freely resorted to now by residents of Hongkong in search of health and pleasure.


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Macao is situated on a small rocky peninsula in the estuary of the Canton River opposite Hongkong, from which it is 40 miles distant. Connected with it by a sandy isthmus is the island of Heungshan. Though founded by the Portuguese as early as 1557, Macao was not the first settlement made in China by that adventurous race. In 1511 the Portuguese took Malacca, at that time a commercial emporium of the first importance, and five years later Rafael Perestrello set sail from this port for China. His was the first vessel to appear in Chinese waters flying a foreign flag. The voyage proved profitable beyond his expectations, and, as a result, four Portuguese ships and four Malay vessels were fitted out in the following year under the command of Fernaõ Peres de Andrade, and, entering the Gulf of China, anchored off Sancian or Shang-chuan. In this island, which came to be known as St. John's Island, a flourishing trade was carried on with the Chinese. It was here that the great missionary, St. Francis Xavier, breathed his last in 1552.

The spirit of adventure which animated the Portuguese in those days brought many of them to China, and they founded a factory in Liampo, near Ningpo-fu, in the province of Chekiang. This settlement did a flourishing trade with Japan and grew extremely rich, but it was completely destroyed by the Chinese in 1545. Another settlement established by the Portuguese at Chuen-chao-fu, or Chin-chew, in Fokien, shared a similar fate in 1549.

In 1537 the Portuguese had in the South of China, near Canton, three trading settlements—one in Shang-chuan (St. John's Island), another at Lam-pa-cao (an island near Macao), and a third in Macao. The first two settlements were abandoned, and the foreign trade of China was concentrated in Macao in 1557.

It has not been fully ascertained how the Portuguese traders came to fix their abode in Macao. Chinese chronologists say that they were granted permission to land and raise a few huts there for temporary shelter and for drying goods which had been damaged on board their ships. These huts gave place to more substantial buildings, and from this modest beginning grew the Colony of Macao. Other historians say that at that time the Chinese waters were infested by pirates, who had their headquarters in a rocky corner of the island of Heungshan. The Portuguese rid Heungshan and the surrounding waterways of these freebooters, and were allowed to settle on the island. At the site chosen by them there was an idol known as Ama, and the place was named Ama-gau, or harbour of Ama. The Portuguese wrote Amacao, which name was afterwards shortened to Macao. On the spot where that idol was worshipped now stands the Pagoda of Barra. But whatever may have been the origin of the Settlement it is a fact that the Portuguese occupied Macao from 1557, governed themselves and administered justice according to Portuguese laws, collected taxes, built fortresses, churches, and hospitals, enjoyed complete personal liberty, prospered in commerce, and laid the foundations of that foreign trade which is now so important a factor in the welfare of China.
Another View of Macao.   San Domingos Church.
St. Sé Cathedral.   San Francisco Gardens.
Macao enjoyed the monopoly of trade between the Chinese and foreigners for seventy or eighty years. When Hongkong was ceded to England, and was declared a free port, the Portuguese Government, by a decree dated 1845, declared Macao also a free port.

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Ferreira do Amaral, Governor of Macao and father of the present Prime Minister of Portugal, was treacherously murdered by Chinese on August 22, 1849. On the following day crowds of Chinese soldiers made their appearance on the mountains beyond the barrier and also in the Chinese fort of Passaleào, or Pai-san-liang, threatening to invade the town. A company of Portuguese soldiers was sent to dislodge them, and the fort immediately opened fire. Lieutenant Nicolao Vicente de Mesquita, with a field gun and thirty-six men, however, silenced the fort, dispersed the Chinese soldiery, and delivered Macao from invasion. These events were followed by the withdrawal of the Chinese Mandarin who up to that time had resided in Macao, and thus the last semblance of Chinese authority disappeared from the Colony. The sovereignty of Portugal over Macao was formally recognised by a Protocol dated Lisbon, March 26, 1887, and confirmed afterwards by a Treaty signed at Peking on December 1, 1887. The limits of Portuguese jurisdiction, however, were not fixed in this Treaty, the delimitation being left for a future convention. The arch with the guard-house for Portuguese soldiers which spans the isthmus connecting Macao with the Heungshan district, is generally regarded as marking the boundary of the Portuguese territory. This arch took the place of a wall, known by the name of the Barrier of Porta da Cerco, which was built by the Chinese in 1573 and razed to the ground in 1849.

The town of Macao is built on hilly ground. There are two principal ranges of hills, one running from south to north and the other from east to west. The level ground is covered with many houses of European architecture, and a great number of Chinese shops for tradesmen and mechanics, called the Bazaar. On the lofty mount to the eastward is a fort, enclosing the hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Guia, and above it stands the oldest lighthouse on the coast of China. This lighthouse was built in 1864, and its light can be seen from a distance of 20 miles. On another mount, to the westward, stands the hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Penha. Entering a wide, semi-circular bay, facing the east, one sees on the right the fort of St. Francisco, and on the left the old fort of Bomparto, now transformed into a residence. Around this bay runs a broad, airy, and spacious street called Praya Grande, flanked by many pretty houses, among which is the residence of the Governor. To the east of the town there is a suburban quarter, formerly named "Campo" or field, where lately some regular roads have been opened and many new houses built. A spacious recreation ground and an avenue planted with eight rows of trees, named Avenida Vasco da Gama, make this the most pleasant and picturesque part of the town. In this avenue are two monuments. One commemorates the defeat of the Dutch, who landed eight hundred men on the Cacilhas beach on June 24, 1622; the other was erected on the fourth centenary of the discovery of the maritime route to India by Vasco da Gama.

To the north, in the parish of St. Antonio, are the Camoens Gardens and the grotto, where, tradition says, the great epic poet Camoens passed many hours of meditation and wrote a great part of his poem. A short distance away can be seen the beautiful granite façade of the Jesuit Church of St. Paul, built in 1574, and destroyed by fire on January 26, 1835. In the middle of ten pillars of the Ionic order are three doors leading to the Temple; above them are ranged ten pillars of the Corinthian order, which form five niches. In the middle one, above the principal door, is a female figure trampling on the globe, and underneath is the inscription: "Mater Dei." On each side of the Queen of Heaven are four statues of Jesuit Saints. In the superior division are representations of St. Paul, and a dove the emblem of the Holy Ghost. This edifice was erected in 1602.

According to the last census (1896) the number of houses inhabited in Macao was 7,190. Since then a good many others have been erected. The public and private buildings are gaily painted. The principal streets are lighted with electricity, the others with petroleum.

Owing to its being open to south-west breezes, Macao has lately become a retreat for invalids and business men from Hongkong and other adjacent ports. It contains three comfortable hotels—the Boa Vista, the Macao, and the Oriental. Two steamers run daily between Macao and Hongkong, and two between Macao and Canton. They enter the inner harbour, and moor alongside spacious wharves to land passengers and

Government House.   Queen's College (Hongkong).
Tribunal da Justice.   Porta da Cerco.
cargo. Macao is also connected with Hongkong by telegraph.

There are two clubs in Macao — the Club de Macao for civilians, and the Gremio Militar for the military — both of which have a goodly membership. Attached to the first-named is a theatre.

The islands of Taipa and Colowane are dependencies of Macao, and are both garrisoned by Portuguese soldiers. On the island of Taipa there is a fortress, where resides the military commander of the two islands. The inhabitants are all fishermen. The garrison is composed of an infantry company of 1oo men, and of a battery of artillery of eighty men. All the officers and soldiers are Europeans. The Colony also has a force of military police, composed of two companies of 160 men each. One company is of European soldiers, and the other of Sepoys and Chinese. There are, besides, thirty mounted police, and a force of 105 water police under the control of the Harbour Master.


Macao is administered by a Governor appointed by Portugal, generally for a term of three years, from amongst military and naval officers. As in all Portuguese possessions, there is no legislative power, the laws for the Colony being made in Portugal. Even the budgets proposed by the Colony are discussed and must be sanctioned by the Home Parliament, centralisation being apparently the keynote of Portuguese administration. The Governor, who is also commander-in-chief of the troops of the garrison. Is assisted by a consultative council, formed of the heads of departments. The finances of the colony are controlled by an Inspector of Exchequer and his staff. The judicial department is composed of a chief justice, an attorney-general, two clerks, and three bailiffs. There is a Court of Appeal in India for all the Eastern colonies of the Portuguese. There are also in Macao a Public Works Department, a Chinese Translation Department, a Post-office, a Health Department, and a Harbour Master's Department. There are two hospitals — one military and the other civil — both of which are under the direction of the Health Department.

The most important public work in progress at the present time is the reclamation of the foreshore on the west. When this project is completed there will be a spacious road round the west side of the town, from the Praya Grande to the inner harbour. A scheme for improving the harbour, also, is under consideration, but so far only a small section of the marginal road of the inner harbour has been extended. Great attention has lately been paid to the question of sewerage. New sewers have been constructed, and the old ones repaired and enlarged.

The first municipal body of Macao was elected by the merchants in 1583, and was known as the Senate of Macao. It ruled Macao in the beginning, and recognised no controlling power or supremacy. When there was any important affair to be decided, a council was convened of all the important men of the place. The Governor, who bore the title of "Capitao da terra" (land captain) was only chief of the military. He was entitled to a vote in the Senate. This system, with some important alterations, lasted for more than 200 years. Now the Loyal Senate (Leal Senado) of Macao has only municipal attributes. Its revenue amounts to about $110,000 a year. The budget and accounts of the Municipality are submitted for the approval of the Conselho de Provincia, composed of the Governor, Colonial Secretary, Attorney-General, and two citizens. The election of the municipal body takes place every two years.


The following figures are extracted from the budget of Macao for the financial year of 1907-8 : — Total revenue : 754,914,000 reis, or 1,397,988 Mexican dollars at the exchange rate of 540 reis per dollar ; total expenditure, 523,777,192 reis, or $969,957 ; surplus: 231,136,808 reis, or $428,031. From the sin-plus, $60,000 are taken yearly to make good the deficit of Timor. The remaining surplus is disposed of as the Minister of Marine and Colonies may direct.

The Fantan gambling monopoly in Macao, Taipa, and Colowane yields yearly the sum of 246,456,000 reis, equivalent to $456,400, and represents 33 per cent, of the whole revenue. The lotteries Pac-a-pio, San-pio, and Chini-pu-pio yield annually the sum of 119,880,000 reis, or $222,ooo representing 16 per cent, of the whole revenue. Opium yields annually the sum of 180,360,000 reis, equivalent to $334,000, and represents 23 per cent, of the wliole revenue. The balance of revenue is derived chiefl from taxes on dwelling-houses, shops, and industrial establishments, from stamp duties (50 per cent of the revenue from Santa Caza lottery is received by the Government as stamp duty), and from taxes on transmission of property, on swine slaughtered for consumption in Macao, and on imported fish.

Shipping, Exports and Imports.

During 1906, 1,782 merchant ships with a tonnage of 819,340, and 4,283 Chinese junks, with a cargo capacity of 4,282.910 piculs entered the port. The number of merchant ships that cleared was 1,780, with a tonnage of 816,265, while the number of junks was 4,317, with a cargo capacity of 3,965,604 piculs.

There were 443.144 passengers conveyed to the port and 534,828 taken away from it.

The total value of goods imported and exported by steamers and junks in 1906 amounted in round figures to $26,846,825'80. The chief imports were woods, bricks, medicines, rice, oil, coal, petroleum, tobacco, dried and other fruits, tea, fowls, firewood, fish, swine, silk, eggs, paper, cloth, Chinese wine, sugar, yarn, earthenware, cotton, flour, opium, salt, and mats for sails and bags.

The principal exports were Portland cement, fire-crackers, mat-bags, sugar, wood, rice, Chinese oil, cloth, yarn, molasses, fish, opium, Chinese tobacco, tea, aniseed oil, eggs, silk, piece goods, cotton goods, betel nut, flour, matches, &c.

The quantity of opium boiled for local consumption was 26,363 balls, value $843,616; while the opium boiled for exportation amounted to 73,620 balls, worth $2,355,840. To Chinese ports, 55,145 balls of opium were exported of the value of $1,765,040.

The most important industrial establishment is the Green Island Cement Works. Other local industries include cigarette making, the preparation of Chinese tobacco, opium-boiling, joss-stick making, fruit-preserving, the making of fire-crackers, tea-making, silk filature, dyeing, silver and gold work, Chinese shoe-making, docking and junk-building, rope and sail-making, and fish salting.


The last census, which was taken in 1896, showed that Macao had the following population: Portuguese of both sexes, 3,806 ; Chinese, 61,766 and foreigners 161 ; total, 65,733. The dependencies Taipa and Colowane contained 92 Portuguese and 12,802 Chinese ; total, 12,894.

On the same occasion a census was taken also of the Portuguese who had emigrated fron Macao to the Far Eastern ports, and showed that there were in Hongkong 1,309, Canton 68, Foochow 13, Shanghai 738, Singapore 71, Sourabaya 3, Yokohama 88, Nagasaki 10, and Bangkok 71; giving a total of 2,371.

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1. Praya Grande.2. Another View.
3. Avenida Vasco da Gama4. Central Avenida.
5. Guia Lighthouse.6. Camoens' Grotto.

Since 1896 the Portuguese population in Macao has decreased, whilst the Chinese population has increased. The Portuguese in the Far Eastern ports must have increased, but without a regular census no reliable data are available.



The most important educational establishment in Macao is the Diocesan Seminary of St. Joseph, which dates back to the middle of the eighteenth century. The teachers are of the eminent religious order of Jesuits. The curriculum of this institution embraces primary instruction, secondary instruction, and a theological course. The chief aim of the seminary is to train clergy and missionaries for work in the diocese, but its schoolrooms are open to all classes of students. According to the statistics published in the official returns of April 10, 1907, the seminary was attended in 1906 by 352 students, of whom 187 were boarders, and 183 day scholars. This institution is supported chiefly from the funds of the missions under the patronage of the King of Portugal, and partly by the Government.

The other important school for secondary instruction is the national Lyceum of Macao. It has only 20 students, but is supported by the Government and the municipality. The Central School of primary instruction for boys has 167 students. That for girls has 49 students. These schools are supported by the municipality. There is a college for female education, embracing primary and secondary instruction, under the direction of the Franciscan Sisters of Charity, all European. It is known as the Collegio de Santa Roza de Lima, and it is established in the old monastery of Santa Clara. Amongst the sisters, there are two English ladies and one French, who teach their native languages. This college had, in 1906, 92 pupils. The institution is supported by its own funds, given as a donation by the Portuguese Government out of the funds of the old monastery of Santa Clara, and of a former college for women. There is an English school conducted by a graduate of Dublin University. It has 40 students, and is supported by a private association. There is also a school to teach Portuguese to Chinese boys, with 31 students, supported by the municipality.




The Bishop of Macao exercises ecclesiastical jurisdiction not only over the peninsula of Macao and its dependencies, but also over the islands of Heungshan, and Hainan in China, over the Portuguese possession of Timor in Oceania, and over the Portuguese Catholic Mission of Singapore and Malacca. He is assisted by a chapter of twelve canons and two chaplains. There are three parish churches, each with one vicar—the Cathedral, the Church of San Lourenço, and the Church of Sto. Antonio. The Church of St. Lazaro is considered the parish church of the Chinese Catholics, whose number is growing every day. There are four other churches—St. Joseph's, attached to the seminary, the San Domingos and St. Agostinho's Churches attached to old convents of the Dominican and Agostinian Friars, now demolished; and St. Clara, transformed as already mentioned into a college for girls.

The protestant missionaries have some preaching houses for churches. There is a protestant chapel for Europeans, next door to Camoens Gardens, but no regular service is held in it. There are three large Buddhistic temples, besides many shrines.


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The "Holy House of Mercy" (Santa Casa da Misericordia) is the most important institution of charity in Macao. It was Donna Leonora, consort of King John II of Portugal, who founded in Lisbon, in 1498, a brotherhood of mercy, known by the appellation of Confraria de Nossa Senhora da Misericordia. That brotherhood was extended to all the Portuguese colonial possessions. In Macao, the Holy House of Mercy was founded in 1569, by Don Belchior Carneiro, Bishop of Macao, who assumed its first providorship. From thence to the present time this institution has continued its meritorious work without interruption. According to the last account published, on May 27, 1907, the capital of the brotherhood, invested in properties, in loans, and in shares of different companies of Hongkong, amounted to $612,038. The works of charity supported by this institution include a civil hospital for men and women, an asylum for invalids of both sexes, a house for lunatics, an asylum for orphan boys, the education of thirty orphan girls in the Italian Sisters of Charity's House of Beneficence, the provision of meals to poor people at a very low price, the supply of breakfast, tiffin, and shoes to poor students, medicines to poor patients, and meals to the destitute; the burial of the dead, &c. The institution is administered by a board of five members, three of whom are nominated by the Government from among the Brotherhood, the other two being elected at a general meeting. The chief source of revenue is a lottery, which is conducted under the direct supervision of the authorities.