Officials Seek Career Shortcuts With Feng Shui

At The New York Times, Dan Levin reports that some officials, eager to ward off career pitfalls ranging from protests to vengeful mistresses, are turning to feng shui and other alternative strategies for guidance and protection.

In all this mysticism ordinary Chinese see little but corruption in drag. “Officials aren’t interested in helping the people when they practice feng shui,” said Duan Xiaowen, an anticorruption activist here in Hunan Province. “All they can think of is getting a higher position.”

[…] 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.

Cheng Ping, a professor at the academy who oversaw the survey of more than 900 officials, said that such beliefs were the result of millennia-old traditions melded with the pressures of careers in which promotions are earned through mastering the dark arts of factions and favors, rather than hard work. Not surprisingly, she said, many practitioners are often shamelessly crooked, since they feel little accountability to the public. “Find a corrupt official and he’ll probably be superstitious,” she said.

The placement of mirrors is one aspect of feng shui to which officials might be well advised to pay attention: apart from disrupting or redirecting the flow of qi, they can be used to hide cameras.


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