Fortune or Calamity? A Gift for Chongqing’s Indicted Police Chief

Inside-Out China tells an interesting anecdote about the arrest of former Chongqing Police Chief Wen Qiang in the corruption crackdown in the city:

Among the huge amount of wealth Wen Qiang acquired for being the umbrella for gang crimes and local government corruption is a luxurious villa worth over 30 million Yuan (about US$ 4.4 million), located in the scenic area of Wulong. Wen did not spend a penny on the villa: a local official gave him the land as a gift, and a developer built him the villa as a gift.

In the villa’s yard is a stone monument weighing over one ton. In the front of the monument are carved four characters in seal script: 福兮祸兮, which can be translated to “Oh Fortune Oh Calamity.” The phrase comes from Lao Tzu’s famous line, “In calamity lies fortune, in fortune lurks calamity” (“祸兮福之所倚,福兮祸之所伏”). On the stone’s back is carved 永安宫 (“Yong’an Palace”). The base is a turtle with a snake wound on its back, two animals that symbolize “fortune” and “calamity” respectively.

It is an unusual looking stone, but Wen Qiang had no clue as to its origin. Neither did the police investigators who found it after Wen’s arrest. Experts of cultural relics were called to appraise it, and that brought out the story.


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