Cecilie Gamst Berg.

20-05-2017

Last week, Hong Kong-based Norwegian journalist Cecilie Gamst Berg visited Majorca for the first time and she has decided that she is going to leave Asia and join the Scandinavian community here in Majorca.

Cecilie has lived in China and Hong Kong for the past 28 years. She has been working as a feature writer and columnist for South East Asia’s largest English newspaper, the South China Morning Post, since 2012. She speaks fluent Cantonese and Mandarin and can read and write Chinese.

For four years she hosted a Cantonese-teaching programme on Radio Television Hong Kong, and her company, Happy Jellyfish Language Bureau, aims to bring Cantonese to the world through films and direct sessions. She has also published three books in English: a novel, a collection of essays and a Sichuan cookbook. She is currently working on her fourth work - How To Learn Cantonese (and any other language) Without Really Trying.

Westerners are leaving Hong Kong in droves as the Chinese grip on the former British colony gets tighter and tighter, and Cecilie has decided that it is time for her to move on as well.

"I arrived there by chance. I was young, looking for adventure and decided that I would jump on the Trans-Siberian Railway and eventually make my way to Australia. However, en route I stopped in Beijing and fell in love with the place and decided to stay. But after nearly 30 years, it’s time to move on.

"I started writing blogs and travel pieces, the first I had published was in the Sunday Times and my journalism went from there. I learnt the language, eventually began teaching it and immersed myself in the Chinese culture and way of living. But so many things have changed, especially where I live in Hong Kong.

"The Chinese really have taken over and brought in all their own people. Hong Kong wants British rule back, everyone I talk to tells me that. They want their personal and political freedom, free market and ability to live their lives how they want back.

"At first it began slowly and the Chinese were somewhat tentative but now the whole demographics of Hong Kong have changed and the Chinese have taken over. They have introduced their Communist thinking and money. It’s half Communism and pure capitalism and a lot of mafia. If you know the right people and have enough money, which many of the Chinese do now, you can even buy a pilot’s licence for example. Money has taken over and in many cases it’s dirty Chinese money, and Hong Kong does not like it.

"The Chinese, while having preserved much of their historic monuments, despite Mao having attempted to rewrite the country’s history, have destroyed Hong Kong. According to the Chinese, for example, the British never ran Hong Kong; it was always part of China. Unlike here in Palma, nothing is renovated or refurbished. The Chinese are just knocking everything down and throwing up skyscrapers as fast as they can and they are buying up everything and anything with no concern or care for the local culture and community.

"There’s so much money in China now, it’s all high-rise buildings, fast cars and luxury goods and it’s all immediate. Their lifestyle is so fast and demanding. It’s become so oppressive in Hong Kong and the smog and pollution is just horrific. You have to shower like fours times a day because of the humidity and the lack of clean air. It’s the first thing that struck me when I landed here - the clear skies, being able to see the clouds and the stars and the fact that so much of the city has been preserved.

"I’ve been out and about round the island. I thought Valldemossa was one big souvenir shop to be honest and that was a shame, and I love the place. Plus I have some Norwegian friends here. We celebrated Norwegian Day together, so my plan is to embark on a new adventure in January and move to Majorca. I don’t want to be killed in front of some high-rise building and that is the future in Hong Kong. So many of my friends have left over recent years, there are so few Western residents left. Yes, there are businesspeople who get posted there, but they are not long-term residents who speak the language and form part of the community. But as I said, that community, even for the Hong Kong nationals, is being taken over by the Chinese. It’s like a silent revolution and the rest of the world does not seem to be aware of how the Chinese are ruining Hong Kong.

"There are no open spaces, it’s not fit for human life. I want to live here, buy a bicycle, learn the language and start a new life because on top of everything else going on in Hong Kong, there is the constant worry about North Korea, and I can honestly see North Korea invading or attacking the South one day. China will not get involved because they are allies, but it will still destabilise the region and no one knows how the United States will respond. So, as soon as I get back I will start learning Spanish ahead of my return here."

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Frank / Hace over 4 years

Ha-ha, - she'll not be staying long in Mallorca then.

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Julian Simms / Hace over 4 years

The same thing will happen to Europe and within the same time frame.

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