Although the Portuguese and foreigners dominated the trade when Macao first opened up, they needed assistance from the Chinese compradors to ensure successful transactions. The latter then became wealthy businessmen who had a significant influence over Macao’s economy. Their status did not fall during Portugal’s colonisation of Macao. Instead, they even partnered with the Portuguese Macao government, from which the former made huge profits by participating in the franchise bidding and grew stronger rapidly. With the rise of their economic status and strength, the Chinese businessmen extensively involved in the politics, economy, charity, and society of Macao. Some Chinese businessmen holding positions in the Portuguese Macao government donated to the imperial court of the Qing dynasty (清朝) in exchange for official positions. Their dual roles made them an intermediary between China and Portugal. In addition, the Chinese businessmen also set up charities, such as Kiang Wu Hospital and Tung Sin Tong Charitable Society, and participated in local charity and relief affairs.
Lou Va-si (or Lou Wa-sio), a prominent Chinese businessman in Macao. (Provided by Kiang Wu Hospital Charitable Association, cited from “Macau Memory”, Macao Foundation)
Lou Kau Mansion, located at No.7 of Travessa da Sé in Macao, is the former residence of the Chinese businessman Lou Va-si. Completed in 1889, it is a traditional Chinese mansion enriched by western architectural elements.
The elegant main reception hall of the Lou Kau Mansion.
Lou Lim-ioc, the eldest son of Lou Va-si, was a prominent political and business figure in Macao and mainland China. (Provided by Kiang Wu Hospital Charitable Association, cited from “Macau Memory”, Macao Foundation)
Lou Lim-ioc’s funeral in 1927. His coffin was covered with the national flag of Portugal, the flag of the Kuomintang of China (中國國民黨), and the flag of the International Race & Recreation Club of Macao. Present at the funeral were officials from the Portuguese Macao government and business elites. Even the fortress and government offices flew flags at half staff to mourn his passing. (Collected by Mr. Lei Kun-min, provided by Macao Association for Historical Education, cited from “Macau Memory”, Macao Foundation)
Lou Lim-ioc Garden, named after Lou Lim-ioc, is a famous scenic spot in Macao.
Ho Lin-vong was a Chinese businessman in the late 19th century who not only took an active part in the franchised gambling, but also invested in industries such as silk reeling, firecracker, and tea processing. He also offered great support to the activities in Macao, such as the establishment of The Reformer China and the work of Chinese Empire Reform Association in Macao launched by reformers including Kang Youwei (康有為) and Liang Qichao (梁啟超). Rua Ho Lin Vong (Ho Lin-vong Road) in Macao was named after him in his commemoration.
Tung Sin Tong Charitable Society was a civil charity in Macao founded at Senado Square in 1892 by a group of Chinese businessmen including Lou Va-si and Ho Lin-vong. It was moved to Rua de Camilo Pessanha, where the building still stands today, in 1924. Tung Sin Tong offered free medical service and medication, as well as charitable services such as education and emergency relief.
Passers-by getting tea for free on the street offered by Tung Sin Tong Charitable Society during hot weather. Coconut shells were provided to hold tea.
The former site of the Macao Chinese General Chamber of Commerce at Senado Square (Provided by the Macao Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, cited from “Macau Memory”, Macao Foundation)
Photo courtesy of Mr. Alex Lou, Vice Chairman of The Heritage Society (pictures 2 and 8), Macao Foundation (pictures 1, 4, 5 and 10), Fotoe (Figures 3, 6 and 9), and misc. photo sources.