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Hong Kong and Macao: Windows into China

March 15, 1967

Report Outline
Western Outposts on Chinese Mainland
Macao's Historic Role in China Trade
Rise of Hong Kong as Commercial Center

Western Outposts on Chinese Mainland

China Watching From Hong Kong and Macao

Mao tse-tung'S “Great Cultural Revolution,” which at one time seemed to have brought Red China to the brink of civil war, caused such deep divisions within the Communist hierarchy, among different groups of the population, and between young and older generations that there is no telling when the country will return to anything approaching normal conditions. Nor is there any telling when new upheavals and new violence may erupt. Foreign assessment of the situation in China, difficult at best, is made all the harder by current lack of reliable or extensive information on what is actually going on there. Western knowledge of the course and significance of day-to-day developments among the 750 million mainland Chinese remains fragmentary and is often contradictory and confusing.

It is almost impossible for foreign reporters to delve first hand into conditions—political, economic, or social—in Communist China. Movements of the nine Japanese and four Western journalists who have been admitted to the country are restricted to Peking, and they must rely on official sources for the bulk of their information. In recent months a flood of rapidly changing wall posters has reflected the extent of dissension between Mao and anti-Mao forces and given reporters on the scene a fecund source of rumor but not of fact. As a result, the long-term China watchers in Hong Kong, for the most part professional personnel attached to foreign missions, have become busier than ever trying to puzzle out the significance and implications of events on the mainland.

Unable to enter China directly, postwar China watchers of all species—diplomatic, academic, and journalistic—have flocked to the last European outposts on China's shore, the British colony of Hong Kong and the Portuguese overseas territory of Macao. These two enclaves, situated 40 miles apart on the north and south sides of the Pearl River estuary, have of necessity retained close ties with the mainland on which they rely for essential foodstuffs. A portion of their predominantly Chinese population sympathizes openly with the Peking regime, while other inhabitants maintain family contacts through visits and letters to and from the mainland. This communication and a substantial trade with the neighboring giant have made Hong Kong in particular an invaluable source of information on the life and condition of the Chinese living under communism.

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