Hong Kong curator: Working in Beijing is a regretless decision

Mo Weikang Photo: Sino-US.com

Mo Weikang is a Hong Kong curator working in Beijing, a city he describes as a "brand new world" for the Hong Kong people seeking job opportunities.

Having lived in the Chinese capital for 17 years, the 40-year-old man can speak fluent Mandarin. "Coming to Beijing is the most regretless decision I have ever made," Mo said.

In Mo's opinion, with the rapid development of the Chinese mainland, Beijing is a good option for the Hong Kong workers. Although the government has issued a series of favorable policies for the people from the former British colony, many Hong Kong workers in Beijing have realized that they are really the same as other migrant workers from other parts of the country, especially after a surge in the commodity prices, Mo said.

Learning Mandarin

Before going to Beijing, Mo worked in Hong Kong for a period of time after graduating from a high school in Scotland. The biggest reason he chose Beijing was that he wanted to continue his study in painting. "Compared with Hong Kong, Beijing has a better artistic environment ... and it provides much more opportunities," Mo said, adding that his fear over the slowdown of Hong Kong's economy was also a factor behind his decision.

Mo recalled that he spent three years in preparation for the college entrance examination. In 2003, he was enrolled into the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, majoring in oil painting.

His knowledge about Beijing only came from history textbooks and television programs. In order to learn more about Beijing, Mo crisscrossed the alleyways, trying to integrate himself with the old city. "Beijing people are very interesting, and they are different from Hong Kong people who are rigid. The city is also very inclusive and it is easy to get used to the life here," Mo said.

But he admitted that the biggest challenge for him is the language. "I could not speak Mandarin. That was the biggest problem I met."

Thereupon, Mo began practicing Mandarin by communicating with the mainland people, through which he realized the importance of "social connections" in the Chinese mainland.

After graduating from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Mo chose to settle in Beijing and worked as a curator for a gallery out of consideration that the mainland art market was seeing a rapid growth.

Missing opportunity to buy property

During his leisure time, Mo enjoyed coffee in the alleyways with his artist friends or watched films. Even so, he calls himself a "beipiao", literally meaning Beijing vagabond, who wants to have a Beijing hukou.

He said that he was deeply touched by the articles of a WeChat public account, which depict the stories of many Hong Kong people working in Beijing.

One of the regretful things is that he missed the opportunity to buy a small apartment in Beijing's Wangjing area in 2007 when the property owner quoted a price of 300,000 yuan. "If I had bought the apartment, who knows how much the price could be now?" Mo exclaimed.

Increasing popularity

With the fast development of the Chinese mainland and the narrowing income gap between the mainland cities and Hong Kong, Mo encourages more young Hong Kong people to study and work in the mainland.

"In Beijing, I can earn about 10,000-20,000 yuan every month as a curator. In Hong Kong, a curator earns the same," Mo said, adding that he finds it easier to afford a house in Beijing than in Hong Kong.

But he did not deny the possibility of coming back to Hong Kong because he has parents to look after.


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