The establishment of the Portuguese in Macao dates from 1555-57. Macao is a small peninsula on the island of Heung-San in the estuary of the Pearl River at the entrance to Canton, one of the most important ports and trade centres in all China. With the establishment of Macao, the Ming authorities decreed that all foreign trade should be conducted exclusively by the Portuguese through Macao - Chinese subjects being officially forbidden from trading overseas. The Portuguese were then the masters of maritime communications and trade between Europe and the various regions of the East, namely India, Sourth East Asia and Japan. This last they had reached as early as 1542.
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