A new book on Macau going “beyond stereotypes”

Meng U Ieong, Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and Public Administration of the University of Macau, has just published an edited book aimed at understanding what has changed and what is changing in Macau since the 1999 handover.

Much ink has been spilled on the city’s affairs but there’s so much more to be unveiled, in line with the article published in 2018 by Lei Chin Pang, an assistant professor at the Department of Communication in the University of Macau: Invisible Macau: The Ignored City and Culture (English translation from the Chinese original Yinxing aomen: bei hushi de chengshi yu wenhua].

It’s precisely to try  “to go beyond the stereotypes and make Macau ‘visible’, by providing timely discussions on the socio-economic changes that have happened there in the past 20 years,” that Meng U Ieong launched Macau 20 Years after the Handover Changes and Challenges under “One Country, Two Systems.

“Besides the prevalent stereotypes that caught the international media spotlight, little is known about what is happening there;” states Ieong in the Introduction. The Professor believes “despite the long-standing image of Macau as Asia’s Las Vegas, it is a city that has changed a great deal since its return to China. Equally, despite this return, it retains a unique social, economic and political character, distinct both from the Mainland of China and from its larger neighbour, Hong Kong.”

To achieve this and other objectives, Ieong surrounded himself with a series of collaborators, authors of several chapters of the book of which he is also the editor.

Lei Chin Pang is one of them alongside other scholars, mostly based in Macau, such as Edmond Loi, Edmund Cheng, Chan Wai-Yin,Lin Zhongxuan,Lawrence Ho,Agnes Lam Wang Hongyuand Lio Chi Fai are contribute to this edited book. José Carlos Matias, director of Macau Business and Macau News Agency, is also a collaborator.

According to Ieong, “this edited volume has two features that distinguish it from previous studies on Macau society. First, the chapters cover a wide range of topics, including labor protest, political participation in the age of social media, the development of civil society, Macau’s role in China’s “One Belt, One Road” Scheme, and the management of gambling industry, all of which are either partially or fully absent in existing literature. Second, most of the authors have studied Macau either using a comparative method or apply the related theories in their realms.”

“Macau is no longer the apolitical society that previous studies described,” Meng U Ieong states on the Conclusions. “Rapid socio-economic changes with a gradually changing social value system in the age of Internet would generate significant challenges for any authoritarian regime,” he adds, quoting several authors. 

“How is the Macau Special Administration Region (SAR) government going to address the above challenges, while its authoritarian settings remain? Alternatively, we can ask the question in a different way: if prosperous economic development and a stable political order make Macau the model of One Country Two System in the eye of Beijing, will these institutional settings succeed over the next 20 years?” are reflections that the author leaves at the end of the work.

(Macau 20 Years after the Handover Changes and Challenges under “One Country, Two Systems”, by Meng U Ieong. Copyright Year 2020. ISBN 9780367339708. Published July 17, 2020 by Routledge