Hong Kong and Macao were once European colonies. A unique, hybrid culture of East and West now flourishes in these two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of China. Both cities opened new history museums in 1998, but they adopted remarkably different approaches in their representation of their complicated and politically sensitive history. The Hong Kong Museum of History (HKMH) represents history by closely following the orientation of traditional Chinese nationalism. The postcolonial characteristics adopted by the Macao Museum to reproduce history, in contrast, are likely amongst the richest of all history museums in China. What are the reasons behind the different historical representations by Hong Kong and Macao, which were both promised a ‘One country, Two systems’ policy by the Chinese central authority? This paper argues that both museums reveal two faces of a rising China; the one in Hong Kong emphasises national dignity, and the people’s identification with and loyalty to the nation when it is engaged in state building. The one in Macao emphasises the multiple roles in finding a balanced position to coexist with superpowers, forging friendships with developing countries and building an idealised image of a (re-)rising nation through historical construction. The difference between these two museums indicates the exceptional flexibility of China’s postcommunist regime in engaging in soft power diplomacy. Copyright © 2014 Taylor & Francis Ltd.
CitationLaw, K.-y. (2014). The red line over European colonialism: Comparison of the Macao museum and Hong Kong museum of history after their return to China. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 20(5), 534-555.
- China's rise
- Chinese nationalism
- Historical representation
- Soft power diplomacy