Neutrality and Collaboration in an 'East Asian Casablanca': Sino-Portuguese Relations and Macau, 1937-1945

CHL Seminar


Helena F. S. Lopes


Seminar Room A, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU


Thursday, 12 July, 2018 - 15:00 to 16:30


In recent years, the Second World War in China has attracted considerable scholarly attention. This paper seeks to explore the intersection of China's wartime diplomacy with the ambiguous local practice of neutrality through the case study of Sino-Portuguese relations and the South China enclave of Macau. The first and last European colonial settlement in China, Macau was the only foreign-administered territory in China not to be occupied by Japan. This presentation will focus on two aspects. Firstly, the regime competition between the Chinese central government under Chiang Kai-shek and the collaborator Reorganised National Government headed by Wang Jingwei as observed in their relations with Portugal. Secondly, the contradictory effects neutrality had on Macau. The war years in the enclave were marked by a severe livelihood crisis but also by great opportunities for different groups (refugees, resistance activists, businessmen, etc.).

This paper places Macau within the wider historiography of the Second World War in China, and stresses its similarities to the better-known cases of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Guangzhouwan. It argues that instead of strict neutrality, Sino-Portuguese contacts and Macau's local wartime experience were marked by multiple layers of collaboration that involved a myriad of actors of different nationalities. These attest to the global interactions taking place in China during that conflict.


Helena F. S. Lopes is Departmental Lecturer in Modern East Asian History at the University of Oxford. She has recently completed a DPhil in History at St Antony's College, University of Oxford. Her thesis analysed Sino-Portuguese relations during the Second World War and the immediate post-war period, with particular emphasis on neutrality and collaboration in wartime Macau. She holds two MA degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.


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