chapter  12
12 Pages

The hapless imperialist? Portuguese rule in 1960s Macau

ByCathryn Clayton

In the winter of 1966-67, the tiny city of Macau, which had been governed by the Portuguese since the mid-sixteenth century, was shaken by a series of antigovernment demonstrations led by students sporting red armbands and brandishing little red books. These Cultural Revolution-inspired demonstrations cumulated in a riot in which Portuguese forces killed eight Chinese residents, wounded over 200, and made 62 arrests. 1 But by January 1967, as a direct result of the violence, the Portuguese administration had been forced to apologize for its actions and capitulate to a series of demands placed upon it by Chinese residents of Macau and by the Chinese Communist Party. Although the People’s Republic of China did not assume formal control of Macau until 1999, many observers view the ‘123 Incident’ – as these events were immediately dubbed, since the deaths occurred on 3 December 1966 (12/3) – as the point at which the Portuguese lost effective sovereignty over the city. From then on, Macau became known as a ‘half-liberated area’.