The Joint Declaration and the Cultural Renaissance of Macau

"A Região Administrativa Especial de Macau definirá, por si própria, as políticas de cultura, educação, ciência e tecnologia e protegerá, em conformidade com a lei, o património cultural em Macau.

Além da língua chinesa, poder-se-á usar também a língua portuguesa nos organismos do Governo, no orgão legislativo e nos Tribunais da Região Administrativa Especial de Macau".

(Parágrafo 5 do artigo 2° da Declaração Conjunta)

(T: The Special Administrative Region of Macau will define, by itself, the policies regarding culture, education, science and technology, and protect, in accordance with the law, the cultural heritage in Macau.

Besides the Chinese language, Portuguese language may also be used in the Government departments, the legislative organ and in the Courts of the Special Administrative Region of Macau).

(Paragraph 5 of Article 2nd of The Joint Declaration).

"A Região Administrativa Especial de Macau definirá, por si própria, as suas políticas de cultura, educação, ciência e tecnologia, designadamente sobre as línguas de ensino, incluindo a língua portuguesa, o sistema de qualificação académica e a equiparação de graus académicos. Todos os estabelecimentos de ensino poderão continuar a funcionar, mantendo a sua autonomia e poderão continuar a recrutar pessoal docente fora de Macau e obter e usar materiais de ensino provenientes do exterior. Os estudantes gozarão da liberdade de prosseguir os estudos fora da Região Administrativa Especial de Macau. A Região Administrativa Especial de Macau protegerá, em conformidade com a lei, o património cultural de Macau".

(Esclarecimento do Governo da República Popular da China sobre as políticas fundamentais respeitantes a Macau - Anexo I à Declaração Conjunta, Capítulo V).

(T: The Special Administrative Region of Macau will define, by itself, its own policies for culture, education, science and technology, namely concerning the teaching of languages, including the Portuguese language, and the system of academic qualifications and degrees. All schools may continue to operate, keeping their autonomy, and may still recruit their teaching staff outside Macau as well as obtain and use teaching materials coming from abroad. Students will be free to pursue their education outside the Special Administrative Region of Macau. The Special Administrative Region of Macau will protect, in accordance with the law, the cultural heritage of Macau)

(Further explanation from the Government of the People's Republic of China on the fundamental policies concerning Macau - Annex No 1 to the Joint Declaration, chapter V).

The two texts transcribed contain the basic principles which are to guide culture in Macau, in the future.

Whereas the first one is a result of the coincident will of the People's Republic of China and Portugal expressed in the Joint Declaration itself which was signed by the Prime-Ministers for the two States, the second one constitutes a unilateral statement from the People's Republic of China which, in this way, reinforces the contents of the Joint Declaration regarding that matter and publically states, before the population of Macau, the people of the People's Republic of China, and the world, the will to respect the total cultural autonomy of the future Special Administrative Region of Macau. Such a wise attitude on the part of the authorities of the People's Republic of China has to do with 'o pano de fundo histórico e as circunstâncias actuais de Macau'(1), (an expression used in the memorandum which included the declaration of the People's Republic of China on the question of the nationality of the inhabitants of Macau).

As Macau is not possessing a culturally homogeneous society, the full reach of the cultural autonomy which the People's Republic of China has pledged to respect has, naturally, to do with the preservation of the present heterogeneity inherited from History, and it allows for the development of culturally hybrid creations as a result of the confluence of the values of both cultures in praesentia: Chinese and Portuguese.

Research studies on Macau, at the level of the Social Sciences, namely in the areas of Cultural Anthropology and Social Psychology, are virtually inexistent.

There are, therefore, no scientifically investigated data either on the population of Macau in what concerns their present situation, at the level of the interaction of cultures, or even on the cultural change operated within each of the present socio-cultural groups.

Nor did Macau, although possessing excellent conditions for the effect, ever try to attract specialists as to venture into the investigation of the comparative history of the civilizations in contact here and on the inter-relationship operated between them starting from this place.

And finally, the richest common socio-cultural Luso-Chinese heritage - the Macanese community - has been studied, as far as covering only a few segments and that, too, was in an incomplete manner.

We are then before three universes of analysis which are extremely relevant for the understanding of the importance of Macau as a meeting-point, a contact-frontier, and a place of interpenetration of cultures, the study of which has been delayed. One cannot but start by dismissing the simplistic and reductive attitude of qualifying Macau as a Portuguese cultural area or as a foreign excrescency encrusted upon the face of Chinese civilization.

That type of statement may serve radical political projects either of a colonial or of an anticolonialistic character, but it overlooks wrongly the socio-cultural phenomena which have solidified along side the historical process that has been developing for over four centuries in Macau.

The World inherited by present Humanity is, in a large part not yet accounted for, the result of cultural exchanges which have taken place between the different cultures and civilizations scattered all over the five continents, especially because of the Portuguese voyages in the 15th and 16th centuries.

An intelligent reading of the history of Portuguese expansion in the world must necessarily shake off bellicose contingencies and episodes of force and domination, so that all the praiseworthy peaceful substrata of the meeting and the exchange of cultures, as well as the invaluable contribution of Portugal to universal good relationship and to the progress of mankind be remembered.

19th century anti-colonialism, which was one of the causes for the independence of the colonies established by the Europeans in the American continent, was a phenomenon of strictly political conflict. The break with their former metropoles has kept the European cultural patterns of the independent States which emerged there untouched, because the native population groups of those territories were kept outside the conflict between the European settlers who were leading the process and the governments of their original colonial powers.

Differently, 20th century anti-colonialism, which had its culminating point in Bandung and was the cause of the independence of the European colonies in Asia and Africa, was, besides a political phenomenon, mainly a conflict which opposed the cultures of the dominated peoples to those of the dominating ones.

Since the end of World War II till the seventies, the world saw the independence of dozens of colonial territories, characterized by a strong nationalist urge of a deep cultural tenor and evidencing signs of anti-European racism.

After the agony of the last years of fighting against colonial domination and the anti-European racist euphory which, after all, has consisted in the retribution of vexing social practices to the former dominators, the cultures of former colonial peoples are progressively and serenely recuperating their own values and, after the dust has settled back after the fight, they are taking up the way of dialogue and of universal cooperation, favouring, as a rule, the relationship with their former colonizing powers.

Our century will be remembered for the end of colonial conflict and for the blooming of cultural renaissance.

Since the establishment of the Portuguese in Macau up to the present day, this Territory does not evidence all the elements which normally characterize a typical colonial situation. I can recall the occasion when, in the UNO, the delegation from the People's Republic of China, in the person of ambassador, later Minister, Huang Hua, rejected all the provocations directed at them by the Soviet delegation who aimed at including Macau and Hong-Kong in the list of territories to be de-colonized, on the grounds that they were Chinese territories with a special status.

The political status confirmed in the Joint Declaration for Macau is similar to that which the Territory possessed from the arrival of the Portuguese to the goverment of Ferreira do Amaral, in the middle of the 19th century: the seat of political power was in the hands of the Chinese authorities, who dictated the rules governing the interests in praesentia, including those of the Portuguese.

That cycle represents about three quarters of the History of Macau and in it was included that which happened here of the most fecund quality, from both the economic and the cultural points of view.

Included in that historical cycle is the creation, in Macau, of the first University in the East, an excellent work of the Jesuits and a vital centre for the diffusion of western culture in China, being also a pole for the spreading of Chinese culture into the West.

Macau's return to the full sovereignty of the People's Republic of China, in the terms of the Joint Declaration, constitutes the re-establishment of its most fecund and long-lasting historical tradition. The objective conditions for the Cultural Renaissance of Macau are, therefore, created.

Translated by João Libano

Jorge Morbey

President of the Board of Directors

of the Instituto Cultural de Macau

(1)TN: the historical background and the present circumstances of Macau.

start p. 6
end p.