Thursday, December 20, 2018

The New China Bridge and the Radio Scene on the Islands of Macau

Macau (wikipedia)
Throughout our modern world, there are many remarkable and spectacular bridges.  The longest bridge in Europe is the 7½ miles long Vasco da Gama Bridge that crosses the Tagus River in Lisbon Portugal. 

The bridge with the tallest piers in the world is also found in Europe.  The Millau Viaduct Bridge in France is suspended from seven tall towers, one of which stands at 1125 feet, a little less than a quarter mile.

In the United States, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is a dramatic suspension bridge 1¾ miles long that is sometimes photographed with its upper structures above the cloud line.  This now more than 80 year old bridge carries more than 100,000 motor vehicles daily. 

The General Belgrano Bridge in Argentina South America is one mile long and it spans the Parana River, thus connecting the two cities, Corrientes and Resistencia.  Another spectacular bridge in South America is the Orinoquia Bridge in Venezuela.  This three mile long roadway and railway bridge crosses a small island in the Orinico River.  Three countries; Dubai, South Korea and Vietnam; have each erected spectacular bridges that now spurt waters that are lit in color at night.

It seems that China can boast the most superlative bridges in the world.  Their Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge is a high speed railway bridge that spans the Yangtse River Delta in China for 102 miles, the longest in the world. 

Their Duge River Bridge is the highest in the world.  It is a roadway bridge three quarters of a mile long and it stands more than a quarter mile above the gorge below. 

China has also erected several spectacular tourist bridges with panels of glass up to six inches thick.  Many pedestrians are terrified at crossing any of these high level bridges, one of which has a specially prepared area that gives the fake appearance of cracking as it is crossed.

Towards the end of October 2018, China opened the world’s longest over the ocean bridge in the world.  This new China Bridge spans 34 miles of open sea waters across the Pearl River Estuary and it joins formerly Portuguese Macau with formerly British Hong Kong, and with Zhuhai in mainland China.  This mega-bridge system cost the equivalent of multi-trillions of dollars to construct and to establish for daily usage, and it was built to withstand massive earthquakes and the strongest of typhoons.

The islands of Macau, at the farthest extent of the New China Bridge, were a Portuguese colony for around 500 years.  This territory is considered to be the world’s most densely populated area, with a total population of two thirds of a million people. 

Macau still issues its own currency even though the territory was absorbed into mainland China at the turn of the century.  Tourism makes it one of the richest territories in the world, with an influx of more than 20 million visitors each year.

On the wireless/radio scene, the Portuguese authorities established a small wireless communication station in Macau soon after the end of World War 1.  This new facility with the callsign CRS was installed on Siac Island, a small island of ¾ square mile, just off the main populated area of Macau.  The callsign CRS seems to indicate China Radio Siac.     

Then in 1925, as reported by the American monthly journal, Radio News, there was a small low powered radio station on the air in Macau, in March of that year.  This new station, we would suggest, was an amateur radio station installed privately on Macau Island, and it was in use occasionally for the broadcast of entertainment and informational programming, as was the custom for amateur radio stations back then.  Radio News described the station as an excellent station.

Macau Island itself was originally an island of 3¼ square miles, though land fill has subsequently joined the island to mainland China as a peninsula.  The crossover point between Macau and mainland China is just 1,000 yards wide.

In 1933, a new communication station was installed in Macau under the callsign CQN.  This 500 watt shortwave station was noted occasionally in the United States, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.  Even though it was specifically a communication station, yet occasional radio broadcast programs were noted in the 49 metre band. 
Four years later (1937), station CQN was closed in order to renovate the ailing transmitter.  Then on December 26 in the next year (1938), the station was again heard back on the air in Australia, though now under a new callsign.  Shortwave station CQN had became CRY9, and it was still operating in the 49 metre band.

The utility communication station CRY9 was owned and operated by the government of Macau, and the entire facility was housed in the relatively new Post Office Building which was located at the intersection of Senado Square and Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro in Sé, Macau.  This communication station was on the air with program broadcasting for just a couple of hours one evening a week.  Their chosen channel was usually 6080 kHz, and they were listed officially with 500 watts, though in reality it was only about half that power, at 250 watts.

With the ever increasing threat of Japanese aggression in mainland China, and the possibility of some form of involvement for Portuguese Macau, the government broadcasting service established a Foreign Service that was broadcast by their 250 watt transmitter in the 19 metre band.  This new international program service was officially inaugurated by the territorial governor, His Excellency Gabriel Maurício Teixeira, on May 28, 1941.  Programming during that era was broadcast in Chinese, Portuguese and English.

A 1947 listing of communication stations worldwide shows station CRY Macau on the air with four different shortwave transmitters ranging in power from 300 watts up to 2½ kW.  Each shortwave channel was listed with a CRY callsign, followed by a suffix number indicating the specific frequency.  Then, a much later listing in 1978 shows the communication station in Macau under another new callsign, this time XXF.

More about the radio scene in Macau and Hong Kong, another time.
(AWR wavescan/NWS 512)