Colonialism: the Portuguese in Macau

Topics: Portugal, Colonialism, Macau Pages: 2 (632 words) Published: July 24, 2013
The expansion of the Portuguese Overseas Empire to include Macau is an example of colonialism. The colony of Macau is of particular interest as it was Europe’s first presence in East Asia and the last colony to leave the region. Portuguese colonization of Macau was slow. The first contact was in 1513 when Jorge Alvares and his crew anchored on the Pearl River Delta and claimed the land for Manuel I (Russel-Wood, 1998). Initially, the Portuguese established a trading port, once they were given Chinese permission to dock their ships in exchange for a yearly fee, but in time it grew to be an independent colony of Portugal comprised mostly of merchants and missionaries (Russel-Wood, 1998). Macau was an ideal location for a middle-man to the China-Japan trade route because of complex politics, and traders thrived off the wealth of the silk and tea trades. Missionaries, primarily Jesuits, also found Macau to be a perfect spot. For them it was viewed it as an inroad to Christianize Far East Asia, and they soon established works there (De Sousa, 2009). By the 17th century over 7,000 Portuguese and accompanying slaves had settled permanently in Macau (De Sousa, 2009). The reaction of the people of Macau to Portuguese rule was never very dramatic. When the Portuguese first arrived they were preceded by negative reports from Malaccan, which had previously experienced Western arrival (De Sousa, 2009). Consequently, they were refused permission to land (De Sousa, 2009). The Portuguese chose a route of negotiation rather than combat for their place, which proved to be beneficial (De Sousa, 2009). In 1557, in exchange for helping fight off Japanese coastal pirates the Chinese compensated the Portuguese by letting them establish their trade city in exchange for a yearly payment in silver (Russel-Wood, 1998). Portugal and China had mutual benefits from this arrangement. China prospered from the trade and was also provided protection from the Japanese who were adopting colonial...
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