12-3 incident

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12-3 incident
Part of Decolonisation of Asia and Portuguese Colonial War
DateNovember 1966 - January 1967
MethodsDemonstrations, strikes, Boycotts
StatusThe Portuguese colonial government agreed to meet many of the leftist demands and placing the colony under the de facto control of the PRC.
Parties to the civil conflict

Supported by:

Lead figures

The 12-3 incident (Chinese: 「一二·三」事件; Jyutping: jat1 ji6 saam1 si6 gin6; pinyin: Yīèr Sān shìjiàn), known in Portugal as the 1-2-3 Riot (Portuguese: Motim 1-2-3), refers to a riot in Macau that happened on December 3, 1966, inspired by the Cultural Revolution in the People's Republic of China. The incident is often referred to as "12-3", with reference to the date of the riots.[1]


In 1966, residents of Taipa Island tried to obtain permission to build a private school, sponsored by leftist organisations.[2] Although they had been granted a plot of land by the Portuguese authorities, officials in the public works bureau delayed the processing of the building permits, as they had failed to get any bribes.[2] Having received no reply from the authorities, the residents went ahead and started building without the proper permits.[3]

On November 15, 1966, urban services officers on Taipa blocked the construction of the school, leading to a confrontation between the protesters and Macau Police.[2] The police, including plain-clothes officers, injured over 40 people, of whom 14 were later detained.[4]

In response, a group of around 60 students and workers demonstrated outside the Governor's Palace, the seat of government, in support of the Taipa residents, shouting slogans and reading aloud from the Little Red Book.[5] Finally, at 1pm on December 3, Red Guards began to riot, denouncing the Portuguese authorities for "fascist atrocities".[6]

The incident[edit]

On December 3, the government ordered the rioters to be arrested. This stirred up the anger of the general public and more people came to protest. They pulled down the statue of Colonel Vicente Nicolau de Mesquita at Largo do Senado at the city centre and tore the right arm off the statue of Jorge Alvares located on the former outer harbour ferry port.[7] At the Leal Senado or city hall, portraits of former governors were torn off the walls, while books and city records were tossed into the street and set on fire.[8] Consequently, martial law was declared.[9] As a result of the protests, 8 people were killed by police and 212 were injured.[1]


The Chinese people in Macau adopted a "Three No's" approach as a means to continue their struggle with the Government — no taxes, no service, no selling to the Portuguese.[5] They were successful and on January 29, 1967, the Portuguese Governor, José Manuel de Sousa e Faro Nobre de Carvalho, signed a statement of apology at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, under a portrait of Mao Zedong.[10]

This marked the beginning of equal treatment and recognition of Chinese identity and of de facto Chinese control of Macau, and effectively the end of Portuguese sovereignty, as opposed to administration.[9] The Portuguese Foreign Minister, Alberto Franco Nogueira, described Portugal's role in Macau after 1967 as "a caretaker of a condominium under foreign supervision".[10]

With the Portuguese now only nominally in control of Macau, real power would increasingly rest with the pro-Beijing trade unions and business leaders like Ho Yin.[11] Ho's son, Edmund Ho Hau Wah, would become the first Chief Executive of the Macau Special Administrative Region following the transfer of sovereignty to the People's Republic of China in 1999.[12]

As a consequence of Beijing's increasing influence, pro-Kuomintang activities in Macau were banned, with the Republic of China mission being closed down.[13] The flying of the flag of the Republic of China was banned, while Kuomintang-run schools were also closed down.[6] In addition, refugees from mainland China were either barred from entering or returned.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Macau History and Society, Zhidong Hao, Hong Kong University Press, 2011. ISBN 9789888028542. page 215
  2. ^ a b c Hong Kong's Watershed: The 1967 Riots, Gary Ka-wai Cheung, Hong Kong University Press, 2009, page 16
  3. ^ Sovereignty at the Edge: Macau and the Question of Chineseness, Cathryn H. Clayton, Harvard University Press, 2009, page 47
  4. ^ Selected Hsinhua News Items, Xinhua News Agency, 1966, page 144
  5. ^ a b Twentieth Century Colonialism and China: Localities, the Everyday, and the World, Bryna Goodman, David Goodman Routledge, 2012, pages 217-218
  6. ^ a b It Is My Opinion, Irene Corbally Kuhn, Reading Eagle, January 19, 1967
  7. ^ The Voices of Macao Stones: The Nanjing Massacre Witnessed by American and British Nationals, Lindsay Ride, May Ride, Jason Wordie, Hong Kong University Press, 1999, page 23
  8. ^ Rioters Fight Macao Police, The Evening Independent, December 3, 1966, page 14A
  9. ^ a b Portugal, China and the Macau Negotiations, 1986-1999, Carmen Amado Mendes, Hong Kong University Press, 2013, page 34
  10. ^ a b Naked Tropics: Essays on Empire and Other Rogues, Kenneth Maxwell, Psychology Press, 2003, page 279
  11. ^ Far Eastern Economic Review, 1974, page 439
  12. ^ Who's Who in China's Leadership - Edmund Ho Hau Wah 何厚铧, China.org.cn, October 28, 2013
  13. ^ Macao Locals Favor Portuguese Rule, Sam Cohen, The Observer in Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 2, 1974, page 4H
  14. ^ Macao Is A Relic Of Bygone Era Of European Gunboat Diplomacy, David J Paine, Associated Press, Daily News, May 14, 1971, page 17

External links[edit]