Macao, a Portuguese colony for 450 years, was turned over to the Chinese in 1999, whence it became a special administrative region. Before the handoff, the Portuguese spiffed up the long-neglected old town, recognizing that the Chinese would be more willing to preserve the European aspects of the former colony if they were structurally sound and attractive. The Chinese, recognizing that the unique fusion of east and west was a draw to the 28 million tourists who visit Macao every year (mostly for the gambling) shrewdly played up the Portuguese heritage rather than wiping it out. This statue, depicting a young Chinese woman handing a lotus blossom, a symbol of purity, to a young Portuguese man, was erected by the Portuguese shortly before the transfer. The bird on the metal circle symbolizes peace and longevity. It is at the foot of the ruin of St Paul’s Church, a 17th-century Jesuit church that was destroyed by fire in 1835.
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