Camões Tam*

Throughout the ninety-two years since the signing of the Friendship and Trade Treaty between Portugal and China, in 1887, a long and drawn-out dispute has separated the two Parties as a result of the differing expressions used in the Chinese and English and Portuguese versions of the Treaty, regarding the Possession of Sovereignty of Macao. The phrase used in the Chinese version was "perpetual Establishment and Government", whilst the English and Portuguese version read as "perpetual Occupation and Government". Chinese researchers always maintained that Macao forms part of Chinese Territory, whereas the Portuguese insisted that Portugal, by virtue of the principle of prescription (Possession over a long Period) stipulated in contemporary International Law, they had gained the Sovereignty of Macao. Furthermore, the Portuguese and Chinese Governments stood their ground, maintaining that Macao was part of their respective Territory.

By 1979, when the accord establishing Diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Portuguese Republic was signed, the two Parties finally negotiated a settlement, that is, by means of a "confidential Agreement" or "understanding" declaring that "Macao is Chinese Territory under Portuguese Administration", the two Parties thereby reaching an Agreement.

Nevertheless, Macao's International status between 1887 and 1979 remained unclear, and whether the Sovereignty of Macao belonged to China or Portugal during that Period of time continued to be a mystery for the History of Macao. The aim of this Paper is to try and find a definitive answer from the perspective of contemporary International Law.

A detailed analysis led to the very simple conclusion being drawn that "even between 1887 and 1979, Macao was still Chinese Territory under Portuguese Administration".

Throughout the ninety-two years since the signing of the Friendship and Trade Treaty between China and Portugal, in 1887, which permitted the Portuguese "perpetual Establishment and Government" (Chinese version) or "perpetual Occupation and Government" (English and Portuguese versions), Macao's status in International Law, or rather, whether Sovereignty belonged to China or Portugal has been a controversial issue. Chinese researchers were unanimous in declaring that Macao formed part of Chinese Territory, whilst the Portuguese were of the opinion that that they had gained the Right to the Sovereignty of Macao by virtue of "perpetual Occupation and Government". Thus the two Parties contradicted each other and were unable to reach a joint Agreement.

By February 1979, when the People's Republic of China and the Portuguese Republic formally established Diplomatic relations, Macao's status in International Law was finally clarified. At that time, during discussions and by means of a confidential Agreement, the two Nations defined Macao as "Chinese Territory under Portuguese Administration", later confirmed in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and the Basic Statutes of Macao. As to who was the holder of the Sovereignty of Macao between 1887 and 1979, this has remained one of History's enigmas. This Paper was made from the perspective of International Law and is based on what took place at the signing of the Treaty between China and Portugal, in addition to the work of two earlier Chinese experts (Zhu Xizu and Liang Jiabin). Reference will also be made to some of the celebrated causes behind the relationship between the principle of prescription of International Law and Possession of the Sovereignty of a Territory, in an attempt to prove that Macao has always formed part of Chinese Territory and that its Sovereignty was never surrendered to Portugal, by means of an extremely detailed study of this unresolved question. Portugal held no more than a mere fait accompli created by the Chinese recognition of Portugal's right to "perpetual Establishment and Government", in Macao.


The key to knowing whether or not China did in fact surrender Sovereignty of Macao to Portugal is the way in which the clause regarding the Legal Status of Macao contained in the Friendship and Trade Treaty between China and Portugal should be interpreted.

In order to analyse this problem, we must for the moment disregard the position taken by the Government of the Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party of "non-recognition of any unequal Treaty". This is because, in the eyes of the aforementioned position, the Friendship and Trade Treaty was invalid as a result of its inequality and thus any discussion about this matter would become irrelevant. China would merely have to send an army battalion through the [Border] Gate and into Macao and the problem of the possession of Macao would be resolved forthwith. For this reason, though we may not be too keen on Portugal's Declaration that it had already gained the Sovereignty of Macao, it is best to put grievances aside, for the time being, and calmly undertake a global Study from the perspective of International Law, in the belief that the 1887 Friendship and Trade Treaty, between China and Portugal, may have been valid both before and after the Republic was founded. This is perhaps more likely.

In fact, the Treaty in question deliberately confused the issue of the Sovereignty of Macao. Had the Treaty been more explicit, then both Parties would not have felt satisfied, the Treaty would not have been signed or ever come into force. For China, the Sovereignty of Macao belonged, belongs and shall always belong to China, the Portuguese, at best, were merely "renting" it for "perpetual Establishment and Government", authorised by China. For Portugal, which has a different set of Official Documents, Macao was always a "place of Establishment" or a "Colony" which their "blood, sweat and tears" had merited, and which was presented to them by the Chinese Emperor. This belief was so deeply engrained in the minds of most Portuguese that no conflicting evidence, cast-iron though it may be, could ever shake it. In order to bring the two sides together, Sir Robert Hart had to turn to ambiguity, using different expressions like "perpetual Establishment and Government" and "perpetual Occupation" in the Chinese, Portuguese and English versions, respectively. Thus, by dint of intrigue and plot, 1 on the one side he managed to win over the Chinese Court, and on the other satisfy the Portuguese, convincing both Parties to sign the Treaty, and leaving any problems arising from this act to be dealt with at a later date.

It was for this very reason that Sir Robert Hart paid particular attention to ensure that: "the English terms used in the clause relating to the Statute must be considered with the utmost care, in order to give them as broad a meaning as possible [...] whilst the terms in the Chinese version should be left unclear. A simple reference is enough, there being no need to go into any details."2

Meanwhile, it has been discovered that James Duncan Campbell, when signing the Protocol, in Lisbon, undertook a ploy, signifying that the Treaty which was to be later signed and would come into force could not be considered a 'sale' of the Chinese Sovereignty of Macao.


Our argument is based on the following principles:

2.1. The terms used in the Protocol and the Treaty, respectively, are different. The Protocol was clearer and more detailed with regard to the issue of Sovereignty, "China confirms the perpetual Occupation and Government of Macao and its Dependencies by Portugal, as with any other Portuguese Possession", yet did not, however, stipulate what the area of "Macao and its Dependencies" was. In turn, the Treaty purposely avoided any reference to the issue of Sovereignty, but clearly indicated the boundaries of "Macao and its Dependencies", that is: "envoys from the two Governments shall undertake demarcation, to be agreed in a special Accord; until such time as these boundaries are established. What is currently valid shall remain unaltered, increased or decreased by either party."

The Portuguese, given that the Chinese had agreed to the "perpetual Occupation and Government [...] as with any other Portuguese Possession", obviously believed that they had gained the Sovereignty of Macao by means of "Occupation". The Chinese, however, had always interpreted the Treaty based on the Chinese translation of "perpetual Establishment and Government of Macao [...] as with any other Portuguese Possession". In other words, the upshot of Sir Robert Hart and James Campbell Duncan's play on words was that the Chinese and Portuguese interpretations of the same clause had always been different. In view of this, in order to fully understand the true significance of the clause in question, we must compare it to other clauses.

View of the Praia Grande or Outer Harbour, Macao. Unknown artist. Second half of the nineteenth century. Copper-plate print with coloured wash. Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino (Overseas Historical Archive), Lisbon.

From the angle of the right of transfer, Zhu Xizu, former Head of the Department of History at the University of Beijing, pointed out, in 1922 that: "With regard to what is stipulated making it impossible for Portugal to cede parts of its Territory to other Countries, the Treaty obliged Portugal never to cede Macao to other Countries without prior agreement from China, since it concerned the Sovereignty of Macao which China had not completely surrendered."3

In other words, if Portugal had Sovereignty of Macao, she would have been able to do whatever she pleased with it, so why was prior Agreement from China needed in order to cede Macao to other Countries? In this sense, what was stipulated was a prefiguration, leading one to understand that the Rights Portugal had gained in Macao were neither full nor absolute and that the Sovereignty of Macao remained in China's hands. What Portugal had gained was no more than the Administration of Macao, as with any other Portuguese Possession. Or more simply, China had only surrendered the Right of Administration to Portugal which was less than the Sovereignty, and not the Sovereignty itself.

Thus, in view of the fact that Portugal never gained full and absolute dominion of Macao, we can state that China never surrendered the Sovereignty of Macao to Portugal.

2.2. With regard to the Historical basis, both the Protocol and the Treaty between China and Portugal were basically the same as the "land regulation" of several concessions granted by China and the leasing of Wei Hai Wei. For example, the majority of land regulation and concessions granted by China contained the phrase "perpetual renting" and the leasing of Wei Hai Wei even had the character of "Occupation". From this we can conclude that the permission for "perpetual Establishment and Government" that China gave Portugal was no more than permission for the "perpetual leasing" and "urban Administration", and in no way signified the surrendering of the Sovereignty of Macao. Besides, Portugal only acquired this Right on the proviso that it cooperated with China in collecting income from opium in Macao. 4 Therefore, when both Countries decided to outlaw the opium trade, or rather, Portugal stopped fulfilling its obligation, Portugal's "perpetual Establishment and Government" of Macao lost its Legal basis.

2.3. With regard to this Legal basis, it is highly probable that Article.2 of the Protocol signed by James Duncan Campbell and Portugal was inspired by an Article in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, according to which, "the two States, Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to be integral parts of Turkish Territory, but were subjected to Austrian Occupation and Administration [...]" This shows that in addition to the Sino-Portuguese Protocol, the Treaty of Berlin entertained the possibility, on the one hand, of Country "X" retaining Sovereignty of a certain area of Territory, and on the other, Country "Y" enjoying the "Right of Occupation and Administration" in that particular place. This means that surrendering the Right of Occupation and Administration of a Territory does not include surrendering its Sovereignty, this constituting a further step. James Duncan Campbell did no more than to exchange the Right of the Portuguese to Establishment in Macao, which is Chinese Territory, for the obligation of that Country in relation to China, to help China collect the opium income, which does not constitute an act of ceding Territory. 5 In this light, regardless of how Macao was defined in the Portuguese Constitution, which, for a long time, considered Macao to be a Portuguese Overseas Territory, 6 such definition was merely Portugal's personal desire. A unilateral Declaration of this type has no foundation in International Law.

2.4. Regarding the matter of demarcation, the lack of any clear definitions of "Macao and its Dependencies" constitutes further evidence that China never surrendered the Sovereignty of Macao to Portugal, the very Right to "perpetual Establishment and Government" or "perpetual Occupation and Government" considered in the Treaty was not wholly valid. China and Portugal could only recognise the reality of Portugal's effective "Occupation" of Macao for a certain Period of time.

Why was "perpetual Establishment and Government" or "perpetual Occupation and Government" not wholly valid in legal terms? Why did "Occupation" from a Legal point of view, only represent a "fact" and not a "Law"? Only when the Sovereign Country itself recognises that this fact has become Law does it become Law for other Countries. The Right of perpetual Occupation of Macao exercised by Portugal since 1887, however, was always an incomplete Occupation or one that never gained full force. The pre-condition of Occupation is the existence of a clearly defined object. But in the case of Macao, this object (Macao and its Dependencies) was never clearly defined, in Legal terms, it only existed ambiguously. 7

With regard to the dispute between China and Portugal over "Macao and its Dependencies", the Agreement which they reached and which came into force was limited to the following: "Until such time as boundaries are established, what is currently valid shall remain unaltered, increased or decreased by either Party."

Were we to metaphorise the concept of the transfer of Civil Law, we would discover that in the issue of "Macao and its Dependencies", the act of Chinese transfer ("perpetual Establishment and Government" or "perpetual Occupation and Government") has not yet been completed, and that Portugal clearly has not gained the unconditional Right to "perpetual Establishment and Government" or "perpetual occupation and Government". In this sense, not only did Portugal not acquire the Sovereignty of Macao, but its Right to Govern Macao is also questionable. In accordance with Legal principles, China merely recognised the fact that Portugal held temporary Government of Macao.


During negotiations on boundaries, the Portuguese special representative, alleging that "continuous Occupation of a Territory results in the Possession of its Sovereignty" maintained that from a very early stage, Portugal had gained the Sovereignty of Macao by virtue of the "principle of presciption". This Argument holds little water, being unable to withstand rigorous analysis from the perspsective of Legal Theory.

These are our Arguments:

3.1. With regard to internal Law, the concept of prescription has its origins in Ancient Rome. Usucapion and prescription existed in Roman jus civile and jus gentium respectively, two words, whose original meanings were slightly different, but which later came together to form the concept of prescription. At that time, according to Roman Law, certain public acts had to be undertaken in order to acquire the ownership of property or goods. Sometimes, when for a variety of reasons, such acts could not be completed, ownership was not fully transferred. In order to resolve such cases, jus civile foresees that "the public and continuous possession in goodwill and without dispute of property for two years or more, and goods for one year or more shall enable ownership to be acquired". Jus gentium for its part was also forced to use the concept of prescription as a solution, owing to various stipulations concerning foreigners and others regarding the ownership of land of other Provinces. When drawing up the Legal System, Justinian (527-567 AD) of the Eastern Roman Empire, confused the difference between usucapion and prescription, but continued to use the concept of prescription. Hence the evolution of the concept of prescription of Roman Law. 8 Subsequently, in the majority of European Countries whose Legal Systems are based on Continental Law consecrated this principle in their respective Civil Laws. Portuguese Civil Law, currently in force in Macao, also foresees that the Possessor of a piece of land or house, provided it is Possessed peacefully (Possession without dispute) for twenty years, during which time the original proprietor does not come forward, may acquire ownership of such property through its Registration. 9 Articles 769 and 770 of The Republic of China's Civil Law, which belongs to the System of Continental Law, contain similar stipulations: "a person or persons continually possessing property without Record of others for twenty years shall have recourse to their Registration and so become its owner and a person or persons continually Possessing property without record of others for ten years and who begin their Possession peacefully and without committing errors shall have recourse to their Registration and so become its owner, thus determining the prescription for acquiring ownership of property." In the case of property, once prescription has been established, the person or persons may acquire its ownership through the appropriate Registration. 10 In other words, the concept of prescription exists both in Roman Law, as well as in Portuguese and Chinese Civil Law, but the terms "ownership", "Possession" and prescription are not the same. "Ownership" is a Right, "Possession" in contrast to this, is nothing more than a fact, whilst prescription constitutes a fact (a qualification) from which recourse to Registration so as to become the owner of goods arises. At the same time, it is unclear as to whether or not ownership acquired by virtue of prescription also requires a Government Ruling in accordance with the Legislation (that is, that all the conditions, such as goodwill, peace and without dispute, amongst others, must be added to prescription). Once absence of goodwill and peace or the existence of disputes has been proven, the concept of prescription loses it applicability. For the moment, we shall not enter into a discussion of the matter of whether Portugal had goodwill or not; the frequent use of armed force in their conquest of exclusive Administrative Rights over Macao; the extension of Macao's border; the continual disputes between the Portuguese and Chinese; the lack of demarcation up to the present day of "Macao and its Dependencies" clearly show that it was impossible for Portugal to acquire ownership of Macao by virtue of prescription, according to the principles of either Roman Law, Portuguese or Chinese Civil Law.

3.2. As regards International Law, the concept of prescription also stems from Roman Law, specifically from jus gentium. Developments up to the present day have led to prescription becoming a general Legal principle, recognised by many civilised Nations. Even so, the International Court of Justice has yet to declare this a Legal Authority of International Law, under the terms of Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Law, having only been invoked in some Judicial Records or International arbitrations as a basis for judgement. The invocation of this principle in the Diplomatic Documents of various Countries merely constitutes a unilateral Declaration on the part of each Sovereign Country, with a limited Universal effect. Books and Studies made by jurists of International Law dealing with this subject are even more diverse, with no unanimous conclusion having been drawn. In this light, the notion that "the continuous Occupation of a Territory results in Possession of its Sovereignty" is no more than a biased argument used by the Portuguese special envoy during negotiations over the borders of Macao and has no Legal grounds.

Evidently, this does not mean that there have not been cases in International Law where the principle of prescription has been invoked as a basis for judgement. The most famous of such cases are the Arbitration of Palm Island between the United States and the Netherlands, in 1928; the Case of East Greenland between Denmark and Norway, in 1933; and the Case of Miniquiers and Ecrehos, between the United Kingdom and France, in 1953.

In the case of the Arbitration of Palm Island, Max Huber, a judge of the Permanent Court of Arbitration considered that Spain, after having discovered Palm Island, in 1666, did not undertake effective Occupation, and that its discovery merely served as a basis for the future institution of Sovereignty. As opposed to this, the Netherlands continuously and peacefully exercised Sovereignty over the island between 1700 and 1906. Based on this fact, judge Max Huber ruled that the Island formed part of Dutch Territory (Dutch East Indies, now called Indonesia). The United States, in their capacity as successors of Spain in the Sovereignty of the Philippines, could not acquire Sovereignty of Palm Island. 11

As for the case of East Greenland, the International Court of Arbitration understood that Occupation only became effective if the occupying Country should wish to exercise and acquire Sovereignty of a Territory and should carry out such Sovereignty appropriately. With regard to the will to exercise and acquire the Sovereignty of a Territory, the interested Country must formally state and notify other Countries of its will to perpetually subject that Territory to its beneficial control. Concerning the appropriate exercise of Sovereignty, the Country must exercise Sovereignty, peacefully, effectively and continuously. Although Denmark was unable to meet the aforementioned requirements as a consequence of the naturally hostile conditions of East Greenland, it was not denied possession of Sovereignty over the Island, having been judged the victor by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and Norway the loser. 12

Regarding the case of Miniquiers and Ecrehos between the United Kingdom and France, the International Court of Justice found that the most important and decisive factor was not the indirect presumption drawn from Historical events, but the arguments directly related to Miniquiers and Ecrehos. For this reason, the Court rejected France's claim that she had acquired Sovereignty of those Islands by virtue of the feudal relationship between the French King and the Duke of Normandy. The Court ruled that Miniquiers and Ecrehos, along with their rocks, should belong to the United Kingdom, whose Sovereignty of the Islands was based principally on the continuous exercise of the functions of State, specifically the Administration and Judicial control of those Islands during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As opposed to this, France never put forward any basis for its Rights. 13

The aforementioned grounds for acquiring Soveriegnty by virtue of the principle of prescription, however, are not applicable to Macao because:

View of the Inner Harbour, Macao. Unknown artist. Second half of the nineteenth century. Copper-plate print with coloured wash.

Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino (Overseas Historical Archive), Lisbon.

3.2.1. Macao is not an unclaimed Territory. Before the Portuguese settled in Macao (ca1553-1554), China had Governed the area peacefully, effectively and continuously for four-hundred-and-two years (the District of Qiang Shan having been created in 1152). During that time, in addition to Army and Navy officers, there were also Chinese fishermen based in Macao.

3.2.2. Up to 1849, the Portuguese had regularly paid land rent to the Chinese Government, to the annual value of 500 liangs of silver, (a liang is a unit of mass and equates to 50 grams). China had held Sovereign Authority in Macao, whilst the Portuguese had only enjoyed a certain autonomy under the Authorisation of the Chinese Emperor. China always had the final say.

3.2.3. China's inability to exercise Sovereignty over Macao, in 1849, was a result of the intervention of Portuguese Armed Forces, this being in complete opposition to pacific means foreseen in the principle of prescription. Furthermore, since China had never formally declared its surrender of the Sovereignty of Macao, which would thereby make Macao an unclaimed Territory, even if Portugal exercised peaceful, effective and continuous Sovereignty of Macao over a long Period of time (1849-1910), the Sovereignty of Macao would remain in Chinese hands, it being impossible for Portugal to gain Possession of the Sovereignty of Macao by virtue of the principle of prescription.

3.2.4. In this light, the only way for Portugal to gain the Sovereignty of Macao was for China to cede it to her. This, as we have already mentioned in this study, never occurred. As regards the 1887 Friendship and Trade Treaty, between China and Portugal, under the terms of Legal principles, China at best merely recognised the fact that Portugal temporarily Governed Macao.

To summarise, Portugal's allegation that "the continuous Occupation of a Territory results in the Possession of its Sovereignty" has no Legal effect.


Even though the English version of the 1887 Friendship and Trade Treaty between China and Portugal consecrated Portugal's "perpetual Occupation", it does not mean that she acquired the Sovereignty of Macao, this without a shadow of doubt having always belonged to China. In History, not only has China ceded Sovereignties which it possessed but which were perpetually occupied by foreign Governments, but there have also been cases such as that of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose Sovereignty belonged to Turkey, but which were subjected to occupation and Administration by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Under the terms of International Law, "perpetual Occupation" does not signify "cession of Territory" and, in addition the Right of this "perpetual Occupation" "was not complete" or "did not fully enter into force". The reason for this is that even today the boundaries of "Macao and its Dependencies" have not been clearly set, and what has come into force is no more than "what is currently valid shall remain unaltered, increased or decreased by either Party".

The Portuguese argument that "the continuous Occupation of a Territory results in the Possession of its Sovereignty" arises from the concept of prescription, but from the point of view of Roman Law, Portuguese, Chinese Civil Law and International Law, we have discovered that this argument had little justification and no Legal effect. Macao was not an unclaimed Territory, but an integral part of Chinese Territory. The only obstacle is China's inability to exercise Sovereignty over Macao after 1849. Although Portugal exercised Sovereignty over Macao peacefully, effectively and continuously, it could not acquire the Sovereignty of Macao on this basis alone. Since China never entertained the intention of abandoning Macao, which would make Macao an unclaimed Territory and Portugal could thus acquire its Sovereignty in accordance with the principle of prescription, this principle is not applicable to Macao.

The conclusion that this Paper draws is a very simple one, that is "even between 1887 and 1979, Macao continued to be Chinese Territory under Portuguese Administration".

Translated from The Chinese by: Sheilah Cardno

Revised by: Ana Pinto de Almeida


Bao Zunpeng 包遵彭

Beijing 北京

Cai Dunming 蔡墩铭

Gu Dengmei 古登美

Guang Xu 光绪

Guangdong 广东

Ha'erbin 哈尔滨

Heilongjiang 黑龙江

Lei Songsheng 雷嵩生

Liang Jiabin 梁喜彬

Lin Jidong 林纪东

Lü Yiran 吕一燃

Qian Shan 前山

Taibei 台北

Wang Shushan 王树柵

Wei Hai Wei 威海卫

Wen Hai 文海

Wunan 五南

Zhang Yiding 张彝鼎

Zhang Zhidong 张之洞

Zhao Guocai 赵国材

Zheng Zhong 正

Zheng Weiming 郑明

Zheng Yupo 郑玉波

Zhu Xizu 朱希祖


1 Zhongguo Haiguan yu Zhongpu Lisiben Caoyue ( The Chinese Customs-House and the Lisbon Sino-Portuguese Protocol) 中国海关于中葡里斯本草约, in "Zhongguo Jindai Jingji Shi Ziliao Congkan" ("Editorial Commission for Periodicals of Data concerning the Modern Economic History of China") "中国近代经济史资料丛刊", Beijing, The Chinese Bookshop, 1983, p.95; Zhongguo Haiguan Midang (Confidential Archive of the Chinese Customs-House) 中国海关密档, in ibidem., p.64, n.36.

2 Zhongguo Haiguan yu Zhongpu Lisiben Caoyue ( The Chinese Customs-House and the Lisbon Sino-Portuguese Protocol)中国海关于中葡里斯本草约, in ibidem., p.92.

3 ZHU Xizu 朱希祖, Putaoyaren beiyue qinlue woguotu shalu woguo min nifei yue shouhui Aomen yijian shu (An opinion on the revocation of the Treaty and the recovery of Macau - The Portuguese contravened the Treaty, invaded our country and killed our people) 葡萄牙人背约侵败我国土杀戮我国民拥约收回澳门意见书, in "Dongfang Zazhi" ("The Oriental Magazine") "东方杂志" 19(11) 10th of June, 1922, pp. 96-97.

4 LIANG Jiabin 梁喜彬, Tonglun Aomen zai Lishishang Tiaoyueshangde Diwei (Regarding the Historic Statute of Macao in the Treaties) 通论澳门在历史上条约上的地位, in BAO Zunpeng 包遵彭, ed., "Zhongguo Jindai Shi Luncong Yiyi Bianjiang" ("Series on the Modern History of Frontier China") "中国近代史论丛--边疆", Taibei, 2(7) 1969, pp. 142-143.

5 Ibidem., pp. 143-144.

In fact, in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina being subjected to Austro-Hungarian administration, Cyprus belonging to Turkey was also ceded to British Administration. Up to the 5th of November 1914, when the United Kingdom formally took over Sovereignty of Cyprus, Turkey had nominally possessed Sovereignty, except that she was unable to exercise it there. Even so, the United Kingdom had to wait until 1922, the year when the Treaty of Lausanne was signed and came into force, in order to obtain Turkey's agreement to surrender the nominal Sovereignty of Cyprus. What makes it different from the case of Macao is that the cession of the three aforementioned Turkish Territories to Austro-Hungarian and British Administration resulted from tangible objectives (to punish and supervise Turkey). OPPENHEIM, L., LATERPACHT, H., ed., International Law: The Treatise, London, Longman, Green and Co., 1958, vol. 1 p.455 [8th edition].

As regards Bosnia and Herzegovina, they joined Serbia to form Yugoslavia following the First World War, thereby becoming one of the Federal Republics of a separate independent State.

6 SILVEIRA, Jorge Noronha e, Subsídios para a história do direito constitucional de Macau (1802-1874) (Furthering the History of Macau Constitutional Law (1802-1874), Macau, O Direito, 1991.

7 Zheng Weiming, professor of the University of Macao, stated that the absence of demarcation of "Macao and its Dependencies" proved the impossibility of the Sovereignty of Macao having been ceded to Portugal. He believed that the conflict waged at the end of the Qing Dynasty, led by various high-ranking officers (especially Zhang Zhidong) of Guangdong Province, local gentry and the people of the Province, against the Portuguese attempt to extend Macao's border had played a significant role in the defence of Chinese Sovereignty in Macao.

See: ZHENG Weiming郑炜明, Putaoyaren zhanyou Aomen fujin Tancai, Luhuan leang dao jinguo yu xingzhi (The History and Nature of the Portuguese occupation of Taipa and Coloane, two islands adjacent to Macau) 葡萄牙人佔有澳门附近氹仔、路環二島的經過與性質, ,in LU Yiran 吕一燃, ed., "Zhongguo Bianjiang Shi Di Lunji" ("Collection of Articles on the History and Geography of the Chinese Border") "中国边疆史地论集", Harbin, Hei Long Jang Educational Publishers, 1991, pp. 448-460.

Zhang Zhidong was a Mandarin who in conjunction with the Court of the Qing Dynasty made many efforts so as to try and prevent the Portuguese from extending the area by taking advantage of the uncertainty of the limit of "Macao and its Dependencies". His main ideas and actions can be found in ZHANG Zhidong 张之洞, Pingchen Ao Jie Kanshu zhi Yue Shangyi Huanding zhe (Official Letter explaining the advantages of postponing the signing of the Treaty of the Macao Border - Guangxu 13:24:4 [6th of May, 1887]) 评陈澳界刊书之约尚宜缓定摺, in WANG Shushan王树柵, ed., "Zhang Wen Xianggong [Zhidong] Quanji" ("The Complete Works of Zhang Zhidong") "张之洞全集", Taibei, Wen Hei Publishing House, 20 (20) 1970, pp. 1622-1637; Pingchen Ao Jie Kanshu zhi Yue Shangyi Huanding zhe (Official Letter explaining the advantages of postponing the signing of the Treaty of the Macao Border -Guangxu13:7:28 [15th of September, 1887]) 评陈澳界刊书之约尚宜缓定摺, in ibidem., 22 (22), pp. 1771-1793; Zicheng Zongshu Yuan Aomen Dang'an (Reproduction of the notes in old Macau archives -Guangxul3:5:5 [25th of June, 1887]) 资呈总署绿澳门档案, in ibidem., 94(9)1970, pp. 6572-6575; Za Qianshan Du Si Zhengdun Bianfang (Report to the Mandarin of Qian Shan on the re-organisation of the Border-Guangxu: 13:21:8 [7th of October, 1887]) 杂前山部司整顿边防, in ibidem., 94(9) 1970, pp. 6582-6584.

8 ZHANG Yiding张彝鼎, Guoji Fazhongde Shixiao Yuanzi (The principle of prescription of International Law) 国际法中的时效原, in "Guoji Fa Lun Ji" ("Selection of Works on International Law") "国际法论集", Taibei, Asian and Worldwide Publishers, 1986, p.27; HUNTER, William A., Rev. LAWSON, F. H., Introduction to Roman Law, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1934, pp. 56-57; NICHOLAS, Barry, Introduction to Roman Law, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962, pp. 120-130; LEE, R. W., Elements of Roman Law, London, Sweet and Maxwell, 1956, pp. 119-125; BUCKLAND, W. W., rev. STEIN, Peter, Manual of Roman Law: from Augustus to Justinian, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1966, pp. 249-252.

See: CRACKNELL, D. G., Roman Law, in "Law Manual for Students", London, Butterworths, 1964, vol.4, p.13 -- The pronouncement of the Twelve Tables of Roman Law regarding constant possession was rather broader. After occupying a piece of land for two years, one could assume ownership, on the proviso of being a Roman citizen. CRACKNELL, D. G., ibidem., pp. 248-249. LEE, R. W., op. cit., pp. 127-129 -- Up until the code of Justinian, the concept of prescription changed considerably, it being necessary to be over ten or twenty years old, in Italy and other Provinces, respectively, in order to assume ownership of property.

British Common Law, representative of the Maritime Judicial System, had an extremely restricted scope regarding the application of the principle of prescription. In general terms, British Common Law does not recognise that continuous Possession without dispute is a basis for acquiring the ownership of land or goods, nor that the concept of prescription can serve as a basis for the elimination of ownership, this being very different from the Continental Legal System. However, since both sides (China and Portugal) in the dispute over the Sovereignty of Macau adhere to the same Judicial System, we need not dwell on this matter here.

9 In Macao, in early 1991, there was a case brought over a dispute of houses and a block of flats (the so-called "Jin Huei block of flats case"). During the hearing in the Court of Macao, a barrister quoted the Portuguese Civil Law clause referring to "peaceful Possession" and won the case. This caused panic among many of Macao's residents. The reason was that many emigrants from Macao, when leaving the Territory, left their property so that their family and friends could help them collect rent on the houses, which were very often the means of economic survival for elderly relatives. Should there have been more cases of this type, then many elderly people would have lost their source of income. Finally, the prosecutor took the matter to the Supreme Court of Justice of Macao and the Legislative Assembly undertook a study with the aim of amending the respective clause, thereby lifting the panic and worry of Macao's population.

10 LIN Jidong 林纪东 - CAI Dunming 蔡墩铭 - ZHENG Yubo 郑玉波 - GU Dengmei 古登美, Xin Bian Liu Fa Canzhao Faling Panjie Shu (The New Book of Interpretation of Diplomas regarding the six Laws) 新编六法参照法令判解书, Taibei, Wu Nan Publishers, 1989, pp. 203-204.

11 The American Journal of International Law, vol.22(1928), pp. 866-867; BISHOP, William W., Jr., International Law: Cause and Materials, Boston - Toronto, Little, Brown and Company, 1971, pp. 404-405; BRIGGS, Herbert W., The Law of Nations: Cases, Documents and Notes New York, Appleton Century Crofts, 1966, pp. 245-247; O'CONNELL, D. P., International Law, 2vols, London, Steven and Sons, 1965, vol.2, pp. 471-472.

12 Ibidem., vol.2, pp. 473-474; CHAO, John K. T. [ZHAO Guocai] 赵国材, Zhengda Faxue Pinglun (The Case of the Legal Statute of East Greenland, Legal Opinion of the University of Politics) 政大法学评论, in "Guoli Zhengshi Daxue Xuebao" ("Bulletin of the National University of Politics") "国立政治大学学报", (27) June, 1983, pp. 195-214.

13 LEI Songsheng 雷生, Guoji Fayuan Chengan (Records of the International Court of Justice) 国际法院成案, Taibei, Zheng Zhong Bookshop, 1970, pp. 123-125; CHAO, John K. T. [ZHAO Guocai] 赵国材, Guoji Fayuan cheng 'an (The Case of Miniquiers and Ecrehos (France and the United Kingdom): Legal Analyses of the Rulings of the International Court of Justice)国际法院成案, in "Guoli Zhengzhi Daxue Xuebao" ("Bulletin of the National University of Politics") "国治大学学", (6) 1979, pp. 61-65; O'CONNELL, D. P., op. cit., pp. 474-475; International Court of Justice: Case Reports, Legal Opinion and Mandates, 1953, pp. 47, 68-70.

* Born in Macao. Ph. D in Law, from the National University of Cheng Chi (Taiwan).

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