TRANSLATION DOCUMENTS Sent by Chinese authorities and drafts of replicas from the Portuguese authorities, 1805‑1807
According to Lau, “In modern colonial history, the most important and influential players were traders, missionaries, middlemen in trade and important officials. The collection, taken together, is the story of these characters.”
DOCUMENTING A MELTING POT OF CULTURE AND PEOPLE
The documents also include accounts, letters, deeds, contracts and other documents that reflect urban development, industrial and agricultural production, trade and commerce, society and conditions of everyday life. “The documents deal with many aspects of relations between Chinese and Portuguese institutions,” states Lau. “These include issues of law and sovereignty, such as the application of Chinese law in Macao, the status of foreigners in Macao, legal cases and public order… In addition, some documents relate to economic and trade matters, such as taxes and donations, rents, smuggling and prohibition of opium. Some are about religious issues, such as unlawful preaching in China, oppression of Catholics in China and selection of missionaries.” Diplomatic matters are also documented, such as the presence of British individuals and organisations in Macao, relations between Macao and other European and Asian countries, the movement of foreigners and the establishment of embassies, anti‑smuggling efforts, shipping ‑related taxation and movement and inventory of ships and port traffic. Construction of civil and military buildings and illegal structures are also addressed.
The collection reflects Macao’s unique global status and role at the time. As it was the only legal port of entry into China, ships from all over the world came through, including Sweden, Russia, Holland, Denmark, Korea, Vietnam, Brunei, the Philippines, Britain, France and the United States. Foreign ships that wished to proceed to Guangdong needed to obtain an entry permit in Macao, have their cargoes examined and approved and employ an interpreter, a middleman and pilot before they could make the journey up the Pearl River. Additionally, the Guangdong government imposed a limit on the number of foreign vessels that could enter Macao. Major import/export commodities mentioned in the documents include salt, sugar, cotton, rice, tea, saltpeter, opium and tobacco. The export of Chinese labourers is also mentioned in some of the records.
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 NOVEMBER 2016