China’s central government is struggling to tackle the problems that have come along with the nation’s growing economy.
Between rampant pollution complaints and protests over land grabs, the growing wealth gap also continues to be at the top of official’s agendas. Under the watchful eye of China’s growing Internet and social-media-savvy population, officials have been plagued with a myriad of political, environmental and economic headaches. But now, at least one government office in southern Hunan province may have found a way out -- by using a traditional Chinese practice.
According to the New York Times, officials at the local land resources bureau in Zoumajie, Hunan, said that revamping their environment according to the old Chinese system of feng shui helped their office get out of the scandal-ridden slump they were in last year.
Officials said there was a noticeable difference after they erected a stone wall, blocking the two lion statues that stood at the entrance of a building across the street. One official said the wall was crucial in blocking the statues’ harmful qi, or energy, that was affecting their work.
“Our bureau wasn’t doing so well until we erected the barrier last year,” the official, only identified as Chen, said in the report. “Now, things are a lot better.”
While feng shui is not a new concept to the Chinese, a deeply superstitious population seems to be relying on harnessing qi and geomancy more frequently.
The problem with feng shui, according to Duan Xiaowen, an anticorruption activist in Hunan, is that it encourages personal success rather than communal prosperity. And for those who work in the government, this will only lead to continued corruption.
Fueled by personal spiritual agendas, “officials aren’t interest in helping the people when they practice feng shui,” Duan said in the report. “All they can think of is getting a higher position.”
In addition, many Chinese complain that excessive amounts public money are being spent on qi-friendly structures instead of the many other areas that need help.
For example, in 2009, officials in western Gansu province spent $732,000 to fund the transport of a massive boulder six miles (10 km) toward the county’s offices, which, according to feng shui, would ward off bad luck.
Unsurprisingly, several cases of politically guided feng shui have failed.
Liu Zhijun, the railway minister, was ousted in 2011 for corruption and abuse of power despite consulting a feng shui specialist on ideal dates to break ground on big construction projects. His downfall was particularly public and revealing. In addition to charges of accepting roughly $157 million in bribes, his infidelity was made a spectacle of when it was revealed he had 18 mistresses.
And in biting irony, he was also charged with “belief in feudal superstitions.”