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Macau and the new millennium

When Portugal turned over control of Macau to China it marked the end of centuries of Western colonialism in Asia.

Compared to the situation when the British handed over Hong Kong, the Macau ceremonies attracted muted media attention. One of the most noteworthy events was the difference in the reception of People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Macau as compared to Hong Kong.

While the residents of Hong Kong were rather wary of what might happen when the PLA rolled in, those in Macau greeted the troops with glee.

Part of the reason for this might be the fact that the PLA has behaved itself thus far in Hong Kong staying mainly in the background. The other big factor is Macau's deep-rooted problems with the triad crime syndicates.

Macau residents are hoping that the PLA can enforce law and order where the Portuguese failed.

Not surprisingly, the handover drew more attention in Asia than in the West. It provided an opportunity of muse over the colonial experience.

While no doubt this was a negative experience in most ways, one thing that it did do was create some degree of common identity for those who shared the colonial experience. Today's geopolitics was shaped by colonialism whether it be in the sense of the Asian Pacific experience or broader relationships such as the non-aligned movement.

While there is certainly a strong trend toward globalism, at the same time we see a strengthening of bonds formed by the colonial experience. In the new millennium that trend may continue to grow in the Asia Pacific region despite the fact that major tensions still exist between nations.

The fact that Portugal was the last country to give up its colonial possessions in Asia is rather symbolic and fitting. The nation was also the first European country to acquire such possessions.

Portuguese explorers established colonial outposts in what Goa on the west coast of India and in Malacca in modern Malaysia. The work of these daring explorers paved the way for the missions of Columbus and started the Europeans' "Age of Exploration."

In the new millennium, the Asia Pacific region will continue to explore its own new identity forged out of the colonial experience. The trends will be very interesting and, at times no doubt, exciting to watch.


 
 
 
Headlines

Central Asia

Uzbekistan opts out
of visa agreement

(Almaty Herald

Tuyakbayev elected
speaker of Kazakhstan
lower house

(Almaty Herald)

East Asia

Aum officer faces
death sentence

(Japan Times)

Korea, U.S. establish
pollution settlement
body

(Korea Herald)

Pacific Islands

Baba to question
Fiji PM

(Fiji Times)

Forces set for
Y2K

(Post Courier)

South Asia

Musharraf rejects
new assemblies
for now

(Dawn)

Britain doubles Gurkha's
pensions
(Asianow)

Southeast Asia

Thai PM wins
decisive victory
(Straits Times)

Hundreds rescued after
Philippine ferry sinks
(Hong Kong Standard)

 


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