China Officials Seek Career Shortcut with Feng Shui

Dan Levin, New York Times, May 10, 2013

Outraged peasants protesting land grabs. Jilted mistresses plotting revenge. Provincial investigators seeking out graft.

For top officials at the local land resources bureau beleaguered by these and other headaches, there could only be one explanation for the miasma of misfortune they believed was threatening their careers last year: the pair of ferocious stone lions that guarded the state-owned China Tobacco building across the street from their offices.

An official confided that the secret weapon the land bureau used was feng shui, the ancient practice of arranging objects and designing architecture to improve one’s health, prosperity and luck. For proof, he nodded toward a stone wall in the parking lot that was built to block the feline statues’ harmful qi, or energy.

“Our bureau wasn’t doing so well until we erected the barrier last year,” said the official, who gave only his last name, Chen. “Now things are a lot better.”

As Marxist ideology has faded in China, ancient mystical beliefs once banned by the Communist Party are gaining ground. Guides to geomancy now fill bookshelves, fortunetellers are busily offering costly sessions in astrology and numerology, and tycoons consult feng shui masters for financial guidance.

This mystical revival is attracting devoted followers in that most forbidden of realms: the marbled, atheistic halls of Chinese officialdom. Besieged by a meddlesome public at the gates and political rivals amid their ranks, the country’s ambitious civil servants are increasingly—if discreetly—seeking supernatural shortcuts to wealth and power, much to the dismay of party ideologues and campaigners against corruption.

From rural township party chiefs to the nation’s disgraced former rail minister, Chinese government officials are increasingly making budgetary decisions to fulfill their own personal prophecies, according to experts, state news media reports and seasoned soothsayers.


Such was the case with Liu Zhijun, the former railway minister. While building the world’s largest high-speed rail network, Mr. Liu reportedly consulted a feng shui master who chose auspicious dates for breaking ground on major construction projects.


Fired in 2011, Mr. Liu was charged last month with corruption and abuse of power. In addition to the charges of taking $157 million in bribes and maintaining a harem of 18 mistresses, he is accused of an especially profane crime: “belief in feudal superstitions.”


In 2009, county officials in the western province of Gansu spent $732,000 transporting a 369-ton boulder six miles to the county seat, a move feng shui masters said would ward off bad luck. As part of the consecration ceremony, the county magistrate walked 325 feet toward the “spirit rock,” kowtowing every three steps, according to the Guangzhou Daily newspaper.


{snip} According to a 2007 report by the Chinese Academy of Governance, 52 percent of the nation’s county-level civil servants admitted to believing in divination, face reading, astrology or dream interpretation.


Feng shui, in fact, provides useful opportunities for businesspeople to curry favor with influential bureaucrats. To avoid exposure, officials often use business contacts to introduce them to a clairvoyant and pay for the consultation, which can be pricey. Mak Ling-Ling, 46, a Hong Kong feng shui consultant who frequently travels to the mainland, charges $16,000 for an hourlong presentation on auspicious real estate investing.

While companies want big profits, officials are looking for guidance on professional advancement. “Their biggest worry is petitioners,” she said, referring to citizens who seek redress for local grievances by appealing to higher departments, which can damage the career prospects for local officials. To prevent such misfortune, Ms. Mak is usually asked for feng shui tips on arranging government office furniture. Sometimes officials will give her the birth dates of their entire staff, which she analyzes for astrological compatibility.


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  • Feng Shui.

    Sounds like the latest Oriental bunkum that whacked out libs will all fawn over pretty soon.

    It says here that the arrangement of household furniture and items can affect one’s health. Does this mean my mother developed breast cancer awhile back because she picked the wrong places in her rooms for her furniture? I’m just foolish enough to think it had everything to do with genetics and family history.

    • Katherine McChesney

      I’ve known new age idiots who arrange their furniture so the energy flows evenly throughout their houses or offices. How does energy know to enter through the front door? Is it given the architectural drawings to know how to move through the house? One told me you should never place mirrors to face the front door as it would deflect the money flow energy.

      Feng Shui is just another scam science like global warming.

      • I’m trying to think of a clever pun involving James P. Joule here, but I’m coming up short circuit.

      • Robert Binion

        Don’t be overconfident. I rearranged my den and a Salvation Army burned down.

    • Bill Clinton had the Oval Office rearranged for this very reason, so the libtards beat you to the punch 15 or so years ago.

    • potato78

      Feng Shui actually emphasizes Yi-Yang balance in your world.

    • Diversity is BAD

      Exactly. Feng Shui is another example of the true level of Chinese civilization. They can steal our technology and copy us today, but would still be stuck in the Middle Ages without our influence.

      The same goes with their current extinction of tigers, rhinos and bears for the sake of their “traditional” Chinese medicine:

    • potato78

      Perhaps as you’ve imaged the mazing place, feng Sui .

  • Nick Gherz

    A little creative, yet harmless OCD is all in good fun.
    Without any OCD traits, we would all be black slobs.

  • bigone4u

    A lot of white women are into New Age bunk like feng shui, tarot cards, fortune tellers, Ouiga boards, auras, reincarnation, and exotic Hindu guru types. Dr. Wayne Dyer, with his feminine New Age “love” message is a fixture on PBS. I demand equal time for Thor, Odin, and the like. The really angry kick-a gods of my white ancestors are more interesting than sappy, schmaltzy superstition from the Orient.

    • pcmustgo

      Used to be me…and that’s all my friends right there.

    • Nathanwartooth

      Yeah I really love the old pantheons.

      The monotheist religions that took over are pretty boring in comparison.

    • Sherman_McCoy

      Sure glad I married a practical, down-to-earth, drop-dead-gorgeous Russian woman. She is only interested in anything if it is good for our family.

  • The__Bobster

    All oh-so-intelligent Asians are still controlled by their superstitions.

    • bigone4u

      One reason the Chinese are taking over in Africa is to get some of that magical sex potion made with rhino horns, or whatever nonsense it is. Wouldn’t it be amusing if they brought back witch doctors to China to cure their diseases.

      • Don’t laugh. One of my Chinese friends joked about how the extinction of elephants and rhinos would probably leave Chinese men sterile. I imagine in a generation or two, this means that the Chinese will all look like John Engelman.

    • Intrepid

      Same goes for lots of White people too.

  • dd121

    The English translation of “Feng Shui” is “interior decoration”. But then the Chinese are a superstitious lot.

    • pcmustgo

      Yes, I was explaining up there my belief in interior design and the power of design in general.

    • Unperson

      I’d say the English translation of “Feng Shui” is “ergonomics”: “the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body and its cognitive abilities” (–Wiki). The art of putting things where hands naturally would like them to be.

      To the extent that Feng Shui means the intelligent, convenient, well-thought-out placement of objects, to benefit humans and make life a little easier, I have nothing against it. But to the Chinese, Feng Shui is clearly a lot more than that: it goes beyond logical design and well into the realm of superstition and silliness. Whether the building across the street from yours has stone lions at its entrance is completely irrelevant to what happens to you in your building. And there are established scientific methods that could test my statement and PROVE the irrelevance of the stone lions (or whatever) beyond the shadow of a doubt. Move them, don’t move them, it makes absolutely no difference.

      I find East Asians generally an intelligent and competent race — but this susceptibility to goofy supernatural nonsense, astrology, “lucky numbers” (and the gambling problems that result), is a major blind-spot of theirs. I remember being able to see through, and to logically dismantle all that zodiac New Age hoodoo by the time I was 12 or 13.

      Also, from the article:

      …the county magistrate walked 325 feet toward the “spirit rock,” kowtowing every three steps…

      Wow, that’s a LOT of kowtowing. That’s even more kowtowing than Obama does when he’s around Muslim heads of state.

  • Rhialto

    A historical note is in order. Benjamin Franklin* was not religious, but he was an enemy of militant Atheism. He rebuffed athiest Patrick Henry, who considered Christianity to be a negative force. Franklin’s reasoning was that most people needed religion. Christianity was as satifactory as other religions, and already in place. Moreover, Christianity was much less destructive than the superstitions that would arise if Americans rejected Christianity.

    *IMHO Franklin is/was the greatest American.

    • pcmustgo

      There is no proof god/higher power and/or spirits/demons do not exist. Some of us have had supernatural experiences.

      • AnalogMan

        What do you mean by supernatural experiences? Do you mean mystical experiences? Do you include, for example, dowsing for water? Clairvoyance? Seeing ghosts? Reincarnation/previous lives?

        Have you personally had such an experience?

        I read occasionally tantalising reports indicating that such things are more common than is generally realised. I have read of some research by a Dr William MacReady (or similar), but haven’t been able to find it. Not into the nature of the phenomena, just their description, frequency and so on.

        I have a particular interest in the subject due to family history. Do you have any reputable sources? Not interested in any new age superstition or oriental philosophy or such. I generally discount anybody who claims to know the secret of life, the universe and everything. I reckon 42 is as good an answer as any.

        • pcmustgo

          I mean spirits… spiritual paranormal activity in my home.

          I practiced witchcraft / spiritualism, my own brand of it, for 3 months. It was a horrifying experience towards the end. I used to be really into astrology and such and figured, why not go one step further and thought it was all fun and games. I had no background in Christianity and had no idea this was viewed as wrong and why it is (manipulation, power seeking, seeking to control others).

          Spirits get very angry when you do not honor them.

          All I know is that it was an evil spirit.

          I mean like Hamlet… stuff that could not even be explained away by going insane or anything like that. I wound up waking up with a mark on my body, a symbol /shape of witchcraft. Creepy as hell. Other bizarre, aggressive things to. Smashing on my walls. Alarm clocks all going off all around my house at a certain time, even though I never set alarms and hadn’t touched that electrical equipment in eons.

          When you are in trouble like that, what would you turn to other than the Bible? You know, like a death bed conversion. Jesus was most known for clearing evil spirits out of people, so not a bad “person” to turn to.

          All “spirit” based religions, whether European or African, rely on conjuring up the dead. True witches have a spirit guide- a dead spirit they can conjure up , and this, not themselves, is where they gain power from.

          Voodoo dolls, btw, are not African, but European, and are called Poppet Dolls and were brought to Africa via the slave trade.

          At the end of the day, I felt Jesus saved me. I sleep with a bible by my bed at times, where a cross always. I don’t pretend to be perfect though or know everything in the bible.

          • pcmustgo

            Or Amer-Indian. Or Asian. Or Indian.

          • AnalogMan

            Thank you for your reply. Very interesting.

            My grandfather was quite a well-known witch doctor in South Africa about the turn of the last century. Not one of the traditional African ones – he was a White man and did his apprenticeship under an Indian man. This involved various rituals, each of which obtained for him some specific power. One, for example, consisted of cooking up a stew with meat and various herbs, while chanting an incantation. At the end, on lifting the lid of the pot, the contents were found to be putrid, which was the sign that his request had been granted. Of course, I can’t vouch for the truth of that story, it was before I was born. Maybe my grandfather was a bull thrower. Anyway, as I say, he had quite a reputation.

            Early in my parents’ marriage, they also experimented with spiritualism – ouija boards and such. The interesting thing for me was that, years later when I started working, another young colleague at the office told me that he’d found boarding in a local house. After the weekend, he told me that he’d moved out. Too many weird things happening at night; doors opening and closing, taps running, and nobody there. I thought that was interesting enough to mention it to my parents. They asked where the house was, so I got the address for them.. Turned out, it was the house where I’d been born, where they’d dabbled in spiritualism years before.

            My grandfather gave up the practice after reading in the bible about Paul having some contest with some local ruler’s court magicians, where Paul rebuked them. He figured that he knew of those magicians’ powers, since he had them, too, and therefore Paul’s power must have been greater. He set out to find who had that power.

            Now, I know I’m going to lose any credibility I might have had with this next, but that’s OK. I have no dog in this fight, I offer it only as family oral tradition, without comment or endorsement of any kind. He considered his quest was over when he met the Mormon missionaries.

          • pcmustgo

            Thanks for sharing.

  • pcmustgo

    I agree that clutter can block energy and/or make you feel like crap… it might not be “energy” but how the brain percieves it’s environment, just as color has a HUGE impact on the brain…. like red vs. blue…. blue is soothing. Red is alarming, yet sexual. As someone who has studied design, there is a psychology behind color, architecture, everything. Does that mean Feng Shui is correct? No, but what do you think interior designers and architects are hired to do? Color, shape,, form, all of it influences our feelings.

    • saxonsun

      And is any hoarder truly happy? Environment does matter.

  • acorn0101

    This shatters the myth of Asian intelligence. Asians are NOT more intelligence than whites. Why do Asians want to leave their nations? They cannot govern.

    • GeneticsareDestiny

      I think the evidence is clear that they do have slightly higher IQs on average.

      However, they may have a much smaller range of variability, meaning that fewer Asians are extremely high-IQ or extremely low-IQ. That would mean that at the highest range of IQs, there are more whites than Asians (after adjusting for population size).

      This is what I believe explains the differences between white nations and Asian nations. Average IQs are only a part of the story. Variability matters too.

      There’s also average personality traits. I do not believe any serious scientific studies have been done on this, but I would bet that Asians are much more likely than whites to be greatly conformist on average. This would lead to a much smaller amount of personal entrepreneurship and risk taking among Asians, which would lead to a stagnation in society, with little innovation taking place.

      • Dude

        You think there are more Asian geniuses if you don’t adjust for population size?

        • GeneticsareDestiny

          It’s possible, I don’t know. I’ve never actually sat down and done the math. If you know anyone who has, I’d be very interested to see the findings.

          That being said, there are a lot more Asians in the world than there are whites. In terms of sheer numbers, I don’t find it implausible that there might be more Asian geniuses than white ones, even if they do have a smaller variance in IQ.

          If they do have a greater total number of geniuses though, it doesn’t seem to be doing much for them. A lot more Asians want to move to white countries than vice versa.

          • Dude

            I don’t know about the number of IQs over 145, if that’s what you’re going by, but name me an Asian Tesla, Newton or Da Vinci.

    • a multiracial individual

      Every race/culture has superstition. Our previous president used a collection of books scribed by desert-dwelling Jews 2-3 thousand years ago to inform his foreign policy decisions.

  • Anon

    That’s pretty funny….until, of course, you realize that 100% of those “ancient beliefs” actually come from the goofy new age jackasses in the United States.

    China, once upon a time, had such belief systems. Everyone involved was murdered during the communist revolution….actively hunted down and exterminated. Every book and other scrap of information on such things was burned.

    Most information on supposed chinese things like martial arts, acupuncture, chinese herbals, and chinese astrology and mysticism come from the US. Either they are bastardized techniques from occult practitioners from the west or outright fabrications.

  • k8

    Chinese officials are little more than peasants (or the sons of peasants) who were in the right place at the right time during the revolution. I guess you can’t deny blood.