Library Film, Inc. presents “Beacon of the East,” a circa 1945 black-and-white picture that takes its viewer to “Macao.” (Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China. It had been a part of the Portuguese Empire for more than 400 years). Much of the material in the film probably predates WWII, but it’s difficult to know for certain. Because it was hardly impacted during World War II, an opening scroll for the film explains that the film features “authentic” scenes of the “ancient city of the Orient.” Scenes include the first lighthouse ever built on the China coast and surprisingly Mediterranean-style buildings. Chinese farmers are shown at mark 02:30 walking down Macao’s lone “highway” as they make their way to market. “They carry their heavy loads for miles slung on poles over their shoulders,” the viewer is told, while a few of the more affluent residents are shown traveling by bicycle. Away from the coastline, the viewer is shown more traditional Chinese structure, beginning near mark 04:00, while of the temple festivals and processions are shown starting at mark 05:30. The A-Ma Temple, Queen of Heaven, is shown at mark 07:00, along with many other sites, including a glimpse of many of the firecrackers the narrator says are made there, and an armada of the fishing junks that head out to sea every day, as the picture comes to an end.

Macau also spelled Macao, officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, is an autonomous territory on the western side of the Pearl River Delta, China. Macau is also bordered by the city of Zhuhai in Mainland China to the North and the Pearl River Estuary to the East and South. Hong Kong lies about 64 kilometres (40 mi) to its East across the Delta. With an estimated population of around 652,500 living in an area of 30.5 km2 (11.8 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world.

Macau was administered by the Portuguese Empire and its inheritor states from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it was the last remaining European colony in Asia. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal from Ming China as a trading port. The Portuguese Empire administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau, through a mutual agreement between the two countries, became a colony. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred to China on 20 December 1999. The Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau and Macau Basic Law stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.

Under the policy of “one country, two systems”, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for military defense and foreign affairs while Macau maintains its own legal system, public security force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy. Macau participates in international organizations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty.

Macau is among the world’s richest regions, and as of 2015 its GDP per capita by purchasing power parity is higher than that of any country in the world, according to the World Bank.

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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit