and historical references in order to fully comprehend every detail. “Others would consider this task tedious, but I enjoyed it. It brought me into history. The documents give insight into people’s daily lives. It was like reading a novel.” In 1995, using a version on microfilm, the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macao published the catalogue of Chapas Sinicas in Chinese and Portuguese. The Macao Foundation published the Chinese and Portuguese records, respectively, in 1999 and 2000. In 2015, the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macao and the General Directorate for Book, Archives and Libraries of the Government of Portugal signed a memorandum of understanding for co ‑ operation in archival domains. This facilitated co‑ operation between the Archives of Macao and the National Archive of Torre do Tombo in bilateral collaboration for the conservation and digitisation of the collection as well as jointly nominating Chapas Sinicas to be listed on the MOWCAP register. Thanks to their efforts, online access to the collection has enabled scholars and interested readers to consult the document at any time from anywhere. NOVEMBER 2016
Regarding the issue of ownership, Lau admits that she has not given much thought to whether the documents should be returned to Macao. “It is a complicated issue with political and diplomatic implications. The physical location of the records is not so important. Chapas Sinicas belongs to the world. We (the two archives) work together, just as we did for the application to MOWCAP.”
A WEALTH OF CONTENT
The records contain the terms and limitations established for the Portuguese administration in Macao, reports and petitions submitted by the Portuguese authorities based in Macao and replies received from the Chinese authorities in Guangdong. There is also official correspondence reflecting the unique relationship between Chinese and Portuguese authorities and Portugal’s special “leaseholder” status. Most importantly, the collection is a manifestation of the very good understanding, collaboration, peaceful coexistence and harmony between the Portuguese authorities of Macao and Chinese authorities of Guangdong spanning more than 200 years.