May 03, 2007
You are on the invidual archive page of Macau riots. Click Simon World weblog for the main page.
Macau's Labour Day riots have at least achieved some measure of success: they've got people talking. There's plenty of advice streaming out of Hong Kong as to what the problem is and how to fix it, while newspaper editors give thanks to the protesters for filling many column inches. Jake van der Kamp in today's SCMP gives a concise summary (reproduced below the jump) of why ordinary Macanese workers felt pushed into rioting. And in all the reporting, at least in Hong Kong, there's just a hint of schadenfreude. For many years Macau has gathered the garlands while Hong Kong faced the brickbats...and one can sense the smug smirks in Hong Kong Government offices as they say "But that would never happen here..."
More interesting is this article in the (still gated, still the same old) SCMP which looks at the differing media responses in Macau and Hong Kong to the riots:
The media in Macau was more muted than their Hong Kong counterparts yesterday in their coverage of the Labour Day march in which police fire on protesters. While Hong Kong papers ran reports questioning the police's handling of the protest, Macau's focused on the force's insistence that opening fire was justified.Perversely, the Macau riots reveal an openly capitalist economy. Open immigration has kept wages down even though per capita GDP is shooting through the roof. Growing inequality has lead to resentment and anger that has spilled over to the streets. What is the solution? Some kind of redistribution of wealth to keep the poor quiet, for example through housing subsidies? That worked in Hong Kong. Or just wait and hope the trickle-down effect can override the downward pressure on wages from mainland immigration?
And most of all, are the right people watching? In many ways Macau is a microcosm of the large economic and social forces at play in China. The stresses of inequality, the impact of migration (in China's case, from the farm to the city), the discord between growing GDP and a lack of real wage growth, social order, corruption and more. They might hope it's an isolated incident, but Macau could well be China writ small, in more ways than one.
"Incensed by a lack of jobs and low pay while mainland labour floods in to drive Macau's casino boom - and accusing the government of corruption - the protesters mounted the most direct challenge yet to Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah, calling on him to step down."
posted by Simon on 05.03.07 at 10:43 AM in the Macau category.
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When is the SCMP's webpage supposed to be updated? I thought that was already supposed to have occurred by now?posted by: Paul on 05.05.07 at 02:54 PM [permalink]
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